The Dresden Files: Portland

Side Job: Trials and Tribulations (Part Two)

Karkana Chronicles Ten

March 25, 2013 (Monday Afternoon)

After the trial proceedings for the day are done, Brianna approaches Detective Loomis to say hello.

“Good to see you. I don’t know if you’ve spoken to Ezekiel about the events of a couple of nights ago…”

“Yes. A lot of excitement,” the detective says.

“Lots of excitement,” Brianna agrees. “That will probably change my plans of staying here consecutively during the trial.”

“Oh?”

“A lot of it depends if much more excitement is coming my way.”

“Understandable.”

“Anyway, I want to talk to Ezekiel before I leave. Is this a good number to call him at?” Brianna shows Loomis the last number Ezekiel contacted her from.

“Yes.”

“Lovely. Well, he and I need to talk. Regardless, I still haven’t forgotten I owe you a drink.”

“Nor have I.”

“Very good.”

She breaks away from the detective to go chat with Quincy and his lawyer. She gets the lawyer’s card. His name is William London. She finds out that Quincy hasn’t been kicked out of his hotel, but has changed rooms after the attack. She takes her cousin aside to speak with him privately.

“With the events of two nights ago, the stakes are raised for staying in Seattle for the entire trial. I may be a danger to myself and to others. I may go back to Portland and come back for just the end of the trial. I’ll keep you posted.”

She and Joey head back to the car. As they get into the car, Brianna notices a gleam of light reflecting off of a gun scope and manages to duck in time for a bullet to graze her arm. The shot came from a red sports car that spins out and takes off. She doesn’t recognize the shooter.

The two hop into her car and try to catch up enough so that Brianna can take a picture of the license plate. They note that there are two people in the car—a driver and a shooter.

Brianna, furious, dials Ezekiel—there’s a lot of interference on the line. “I just got fucking shot!” she yells.

“Are you all right?” the Warden asks.

" I will be. I don’t know how or when you will be going after the Margrave, but he is making me angry and I’m now taking this personally. In the middle of the fucking day! I’m glad it wasn’t at the courthouse or there’d be fucking cops all over this. That’s all we need is another of us in jail! "

- interested—-raid—-indirect—-” There’s a great deal of static on the line and it’s difficult for Brianna to hear the Warden on the other side.

“I can only hear every other word!” she yells into the phone.

- Pike’s Place—-one hour—-”

“Alright!” Brianna hangs up, muttering. “Like talking to someone working in a fucking generator. Fucking wizards.”

To Joey she says, “I don’t know. Sounds like a raid to get at the Margrave. We meet at Pike’s Place somewhere in an hour. This is seriously damaging my calm.” She continues to fume. I guess we’ll get more details when we get to Pike’s Place. I don’t know if this is something you want to get into or not."

“So I’m supposed to sit in the hotel room and knit a sweater?”

“I like having you at my back, but I want it to be very clear that it is your choice whether you get involved. We’ll get more information once we get to this actual meeting. But I could catch “indirect,” so I don’t think we’re going against the Margrave in his place of business. The bastard’s tried to kill me twice now and I’ve had it."

The two head to their hotel room to change clothes and then to out to Pike’s Place market. They throw their luggage in the trunk in case they decide to go ahead and head back to Portland after their adventures tonight.

They decide to hang out by the large iconic sign first to see if Ezekiel shows up. Sure enough, the lanky Warden soon meets them there.

“Are you alright?” he asks Brianna.

“Yes, thank you. I have a picture of the license plate. Joey’s a good driver and was able to get close enough to get it.”

“Get that to Loomis and you could see some results.”

“I wasn’t sure if he would treat this as an officer of the law, or as…”

“That’s his decision,” Ezekiel says.

“I didn’t want to get asked in for questioning for someone shooting at me.”

“He knows discretion,” Ezekiel assures her.

Brianna shrugs. “I’ll call Loomis.” She dials his cell phone.

“This is Loomis,” he answers.

“This is Brianna. I’m here with Ezekiel. He says you have ‘discretion.’ I have a license plate number of someone who shot at me from the passenger seat as I was leaving the courthouse this afternoon.”

“Give me the number.”

“I have a picture of it, actually. Make. Model. One shooter, one driver. Thank you.” She hangs up and texts him the picture. She turns to the Ezekiel. “You’re hard to talk to on the phone.”

“Technology doesn’t agree with me.”

“Are we doing this here or is there someplace else we can talk?”

“There’s a park nearby. Why don’t we take a walk?”

Ezekiel leads the way and once they get out of the more populated market area, he begins. “I’m not directly after the Margrave. Yet. Too dangerous. But I am going after one of his establishments. A nest. It’s an apartment building. Chock full of Red Court. Tenants move in. Become thralls and are fed on. I’m taking it down.”

“Good,” Brianna says. “Do you have any sense of how many Red Court are actually in there.”

“Ten.”

“How many mortals?”

“Probably the same.”

“Is this a permanent solution to clearing out this nest?”

“How do you mean?”

“Is your sword getting involved?”

“Yes.”

“Good. What about the mortals? Won’t they need help?”

“They’ll need mental treatment,” Ezekiel says with a frown.

Brianna nods. “Yes, I’d like to help.”

“It’ll be me, Loomis, Dexter Quinn. You’ve not met him.”

“I’ve heard of him. Word on the street is that he’s the head of the local pack.”

Ezekiel nods. “Word on the street is right.”

“I have nothing against weres, though I haven’t worked with them. I take it Dexter Quinn isn’t going to have anything against working with me?”

“I don’t think so.”

Ezekiel gives Brianna an address on Aurora Avenue.

“What time do we go?” Brianna asks.

“We can’t do this in broad daylight,” Ezekiel cautions.

“Seems like that would be problematic. Unfortunately, they’ll be up.”

Ezekiel nods. “We begin at 9 pm. We meet a block away.” He gives her the block.

“Good,” Brianna says. “I’ll try not to get shot at between now and then.”

Brianna’s cell phone rings. It’s Loomis.

“This is Brianna.”

“It’s Loomis.”

“That was quick.”

“The car is hot.”

“Somehow, that does not surprise me.”

“Sorry,” Loomis says.

“I didn’t think it would be that easy. Thank you for looking.”

“No problem. But your photo gave a partial of the driver. At least his neck tattoo—which is a sign from a local gang,” Loomis says.

“Charming.”

“You run into any gangs while you’ve been here?”

“Not that I know of. So either he’s got gangs working for him or he’s got my picture out to crappy shooters or what?”

“How far do you want me to pursue this?” Loomis asks.

“I don’t know. I’m not lodging a formal complaint. No offense, but I’ve spent enough time in police stations and courtrooms to last a long time. Do you know the name of the gang?”

“Anacondas.”

Brianna asks Ezekiel, “Does the Margrave have any known associations with the Anacondas? Apparently that was the gang sign of the asshole that shot me.”

“The Margrave has his hands in nearly every criminal organization in the city.”

“That’s reassuring,” Brianna says. To Loomis she says, “You’re the detective. I’ll leave that up to you. Unless you can find out who that person is in case I see him walking down the street towards me.”

“I’ll do what I can off the record.”

“I greatly appreciate it. On the upshot, if I can keep myself from being killed, then it appears we’re attending the same event tonight.”

“Oh, really?” Loomis seems pleasantly surprised.

“I guess I’ll see you then.” She hangs up and turns to the Warden. “Anything we need to bring besides ourselves?”

“You know what you’re going in for,” he says.

“Yep. Satisfaction.”

Ezekiel looks at Joey. “You have a weapon?”

The fighter shakes his head. The Warden sighs. “You may not want in on this. You’ll be in over your head.”

“I back up Brianna,” Joey says firmly.

“Do you think Loomis would let him borrow a Kevlar vest?” Brianna asks.

“We can ask Loomis,” Ezekiel says.

“Is there Accorded Neutral Ground in Seattle?” Brianna asks.

“No,” Ezekiel says.

“Was there Accorded Neutral Ground in Seattle?”

“Yes,” Ezekiel says.

“I’m going to try to avoid gang members for the rest of the day. See you at nine,” Brianna says and she and Joey head back to her car.

“I hope you’re okay with the Kevlar idea,” Brianna says to Joey.

“Yeah,” he says.

“I don’t want to be stupid about this,” she continues. Joey doesn’t say anymore about it.

They hang out and drive until time for their rendezvous at nine, trying to lay low. Later, Brianna texts Loomis: IF EZEKIEL HASN’T MENTIONED IT YET, CAN YOU BRING KEVLAR?

Loomis texts back: WILL DO.

They go to a supply store and Joey buys a hunting knife.

March 25, 2013 (9 pm)

Brianna and Joey meet at the rendezvous point about a block away from the apartment building. Loomis and Ezekiel are there as well as a ruggedly handsome man in a mechanic’s shirt and jeans. He introduces himself as Dexter Quinn. Brianna gets a strong supernatural “vibe” off of the man.

When Brianna introduces herself, he nods and says “So you’re the other kind,” meaning the other kind of vampire.

“I suppose you could say that,” Brianna says.

“Interesting,” Quinn says.

“Everyone keeps using that word,” Brianna mutters.

Quinn says to Ezekiel, “So we’re approaching from the rear?”

“Yes. I think it best if you go in your alternate form. You’ll probably be more effective.”

Both men then turn and look at Loomis. The detective nods.

Ezekiel continues. “So we approach from the rear. One door at a time.”

“Eliminate the Red Court, neutralize the thralls, I suppose,” Brianna says.

Ezekiel nods.

“Perfect,” Brianna says.

“Joey, why don’t you concentrate on the thralls. Get them out of the way,” Ezekiel says.

“I can do that,” Joey says. Loomis hands Joey a Kevlar vest and Joey puts it on.

“Follow me.” And Ezekiel leads the way through alleys to the rear of a small, two-story apartment building with outward-facing doors and exterior staircases.

“Gentlemen, I think it’s time to change outfits,” Ezekiel says. Quinn and Loomis begin shucking their clothes. Brianna and Joey start the limbering stretches they usually do before a fight. Behind them, they hear meaty, stretching sounds and then, padding up to join them are a wolf and grizzly bear. The bear looks at Brianna and shrugs its massive shoulders. Brianna looks him over and nods appreciatively, “Nice.”

Ezekiel points at the first apartment in the bottom row. There’s door number one."

Brianna leads the way and breaks down the door with her inhuman strength. Inside she sees a male vampire feeding on a male thrall. The vampire looks up in surprise and Brianna punches him in the face. Ezekiel yells from the back “Go for the belly!” Dexter leaps into the room and tears into the vampire’s stomach, tearing away the flesh mask there and blood flies everywhere. The vampire’s claws elongate from the remaining flesh and slash at the wolf’s belly but misses. Loomis pads into the room and attempts to bite at the prone creature and manages to miss it. Ezekiel stands in the doorway and shoots a stream of steam from the palm of his hand at the vampire, but the creature manages to squirm out of its path. Joey is blocked from getting inside by Ezekiel in the doorway, but keeps an eye on anyone coming up behind them.

Quinn manages to bite deeper into the vampire’s belly while Brianna reaches down and punches it in the stomach. The vampire slashes Quinn with its claws while Loomis, once again, misses the vampire. Finally, Quinn takes the vampire out with another deep bite. His muzzle and chest and are covered in blood.

The thrall is dazed and lying on the couch. Brianna looks to make sure that the apartment is self-contained and not connected to the next. Brianna starts to leave when she hears Joey say “Oh shit.” Outside the apartment, Ezekiel and Joey face off against another vampire.

The creature tries to slash at Joey but the experienced fighter is light on his feet and manages to dodge it. Joey punches the creature the in the stomach and Ezekiel fills its face with steam, melting away its flesh mask and blistering the bestial face beneath it. Brianna emerges from the apartment and punches the vampire in the stomach while Quinn manages to leap out of the apartment door and tackle the vamp. Loomis lumbers out of the apartment and actually manages to belly slash the vampire with his huge paw. Finally, Quinn buries his face into the vampire’s gut and finishes it off.

Brianna sees that the apartment next door is open. She peers inside and sees two thralls spaced out and lying on the floor.

Before going into the third apartment, Ezekiel calls a halt to regroup. “I have an idea. I can hit the room with a flash bang before we go in.”

“I still have to get the door open,” Brianna says. She then hears a door open upstairs. “Someone opened a door upstairs,” she warns and looks. She sees a heavyset man with a shot gun on the balcony. “Gun!” she yells.

With a roar, the shotgun goes off and the raiding party scatters. Brianna bolts for the stairs with her inhuman speed. The man, nearly as fast as she is, fires again, this time at her. He misses. She meets him, sweeps his leg with hers, and knocks him off-balance. He fires again and misses. Quinn arrives and bites the man, tearing away a flesh mask, revealing him to be a vampire. Ezekiel fires another round of steam at the vamp from down below, melting away more of his flesh mask. Brianna grapples with the man, inciting rage within him, and begins to feed upon the emotion, doing mental harm. Quinn bites him again. The vamp can’t break away from Brianna’s grip and continues to froth in rage. A slap of air from Ezekiel strikes the vampire as Quinn, once again, tears into the vampire and takes it out. Brianna takes the shotgun and the shells that remain and tosses them to Joey.

Finally, they head back down to the third door of the apartment building. Brianna, once again, breaks down the door and then steps aside to let Ezekiel do his flash-bang spell. She can hear a thunderclap go off and, even though she turned away, sees lightning go off out of the corner of her eye. Brianna then moves in. She sees a couple of women standing in the living room rubbing their eyes and covering their ears, obviously distressed. She moves up to the them and checks them for bite marks. They’ve been fed upon. She calls out “Mortals” to the rest of the her compatriots and starts throwing open doors. When she throws open the door to one of the bedrooms, a Red Court vamp pops out and slashes her across the chest. “Motherfucker!” she yells. She pushes the vamp to get it off balance. It slashes her across the cheek, but Brianna shrugs it off. She then grapples with the thing, incites it to rage, and begins to feed on it. At this point, Quinn arrives and bites the creature in the belly as Brianna continues to feed on it and finally kills it, allowing its life force to heal her wounds.

At the next door, Brianna breaks it down and is met with a woman swinging a broom handle at her. The woman keeps missing her with the wooden pole, but not for lack of trying. Brianna manages to intimidate her and sees her glazed over eyes. Brianna knocks her out with one punch. Everyone comes inside and Brianna, cautiously this time, starts opening doors in the apartment. At the bedroom, a vampire surprises everyone again and Brianna and Quinn begin to engage it, when suddenly another one emerges from the bathroom. With the tight quarters of the hallway, Brianna takes the one in the bathroom while Quinn takes the one in the bedroom. The others are having a hard time helping. Quinn manages to takes a seriously bloody wound to his gut from the vampire in the bedroom while Brianna engages with “the bathroom buddy”. Loomis attempts to help Brianna by swiping at the bathroom vamp, but misses. Joey shoots at the bedroom vamp but misses. Ezekiel shoots his steam at the bedroom vamp and burns away his flesh mask and blisters it. Quinn manages to bite the vamp. Meanwhile, Brianna punches the bathroom buddy in the stomach. Loomis manages to slash him in the belly. Joey fires with the shotgun again—and misses everyone. Ezekiel strikes the bedroom vamp with an evocation of air. Quinn is on the ropes—his belly wound is bleeding and he misses the bedroom vamp. Brianna turns to the bedroom vamp and manages to take him out with a vicious punch, taking full advantage of his other injuries. She then turns her attention back to the “bathroom buddy”. The vampire in the bathroom misses Brianna. Loomis slashes the bathroom vamp across the face. Joey then shoots Loomis in the back. “Fuck!” he yells from across the room as the bear roars. Ezekiel steam jets the vamp while Quinn bites him and Brianna finally takes him out.

Breathless, everyone rests for a moment after the hairy fight. Brianna looks at Quinn. “Can you do anything?” she asks Ezekiel. “No,” the Warden says. “He needs medical attention.”

“Are we calling this off to get you medical attention or are you going to the back and take up rear guard? Loomis and I can go up front,” Brianna says to Quinn.

Quinn and Loomis nod.

At the last door on the bottom floor, Brianna busts open the door on an empty apartment. She goes through and confirms it. They then head upstairs, Loomis carefully lumbering.

At the first door on the second floor, Brianna bursts through the door and a vampire rushes forward to meet her. She rushes forward to meet him. The vamp goes to claw her but misses. Loomis enters the room and misses the vampire. Brianna strikes the vampire. The vampires claws at Brianna again and misses. Loomis claws the vamp with a powerful paw. Brianna then takes the creature out. The raiders check the other rooms and find nothing of interest save for a thrall lying on the bed in the bedroom.

At the next door, Brianna once again breaks down the door and finds a vampire waiting on her who spits at her. She manages to dodge the narcotic saliva as he rushes her. Brianna hits the vampire and he hits her. Loomis comes up from behind and misses. Brianna misses. The vampire hits, then Loomis hits, then Brianna sweeps the vampire’s leg, knocking it off-balance. The vampire then hits Brianna, bloodying her nose. Loomis hits the thing as Brianna grapples with it and begins to feed. The vampire cannot break away and Loomis manages to give it belly slash as Brianna kills it with her feeding.

Inside the bedroom, they find a couple watching television. “Who are you?” the man demands. “What are you doing here?” The woman says, “We’re calling the police!” Brianna manages to get the phone first. She pulls it out of the wall. “If you want to stay safe, then you stay the hell in this room.” She intimidates them into staying put.

As the party leaves, she mutters, “Those two are awful sentient.”

Ezekiel says, “Fine thralls.”

Brianna throws the phone over the balcony.

At the next door, Brianna breaks it down and is met by the barrel of a large-caliber handgun. “I don’t know what the hell is going on here, but it’s not coming in here,” she hears from the darkness within.

Brianna says, “I’m going to turn on this light. If you shoot me, you will be very unhappy with the consequences.” She reaches in and flips on the light.

She sees a young black man wearing a Seahawks jersey pointing a large gun at her face. He looks a bit dazed, scared, and she an see bite marks on his neck. She says, “I’m not here to hurt you, but I’m coming in here to see if you have someone else with you No you better not get in my way.”

“Is that a grizzly bear?” the man asks, incredulously.

“That’s my friend. You better sit your ass down in that chair in there right now.”

He clicks back the hammer. “I can’t let you in here.”

Brianna punches him. The man fires his gun, but misses. Brianna punches him again and knocks him out.

She and Loomis enter the apartment and start checking it out. Loomis starts to roar and attacks a shadowy corner of the living room. He gives the hidden vampire a bloody gash. The vampire attacks Loomis. Brianna moves to the corner and attacks the vampire. The vampire attacks Loomis and hits him. Loomis slashes the vampire across the face and Brianna takes him out.

“Is the rest of the apartment clean?” Brianna asks the bear. Loomis nods.

At the next apartment, Brianna breaks down the door and a vampire tries to run past her. Loomis rears up and lumbers down, knocking the vampire prone. The vampire sheds its flesh mask and slashes at Loomis from beneath him. Loomis tries to bite it, but misses. Brianna goes to punch it, but misses. Ezekiel steams the creatures, blistering it. Brianna misses it. The vampire misses Loomis. Loomis misses it. Ezekiel steams it again. Brianna cracks one of its ribs. It slashes Loomis. Loomis misses it. Ezekiel steams it a third time. And finally Brianna takes it out. Brianna searches out the apartment and finds that it is empty.

At the tenth and final door, Brianna breaks it down. They all search it out and find it clear of vampires.

Brianna, panting, says, “I think that’s everyone.”

“Me too,” Ezekiel says.

“So what happens now? We have dead Red Court. Dazed people,” Brianna asks.

“Loomis, can we arrange for a nice policeman to evacuate these people for awhile?” Ezekiel asks Loomis.

The bear nods and begins loping towards the rear of the building where their clothing was left.

“Loomis may be able to get the thralls to safety while I take care of the Red Court corpses,” Ezekiel says.

“Good. Is there anything else you need our help with?” Brianna asks.

“No. You’ve done plenty. I appreciate it.”

“I appreciate the opportunity. At this point, we’ll probably heading back to Portland.”

“Well, if you come back to Seattle, I’d be happy to count you as an ally.”

“Thank you. I count you as an ally as well.”

The two shake hands.

Joey and Brianna head downstairs. They meet Loomis coming back.

“Where’d Quinn go?” Brianna asks.

“He’s going to get his wound looked at.”

“Good. All right then.” She grins suddenly. “I don’t know why when we have an adventure together I wind up with a ruined wardrobe and covered in blood from head to toe, but I’m glad that’s done.”

“Me too. You hanging around?”

“I think I’m heading back to Portland for while. People are shooting at me in the street. Seems to be asking for trouble staying here. The Red Court doesn’t have as big a presence in Portland. Hopefully no trouble will follow me that way. I need a bath, a bed, and a whisky, but not necessarily in that order. It was good to see you.”

The two shake hands and Joey returns the Kevlar vest.

“Hopefully I’ll see you when I’m back in town for my cousin’s verdict. Or, if you find yourself in Portland, give me a call,” Brianna says.

“Okay,” Loomis says.

Joey and Brianna head back to the car, change clothes in the back of the car, and drive back to Portland.

“A were-bear. That’s not what I expected,” Brianna says as they drive.

“Nope,” Joey says.

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