The Dresden Files: Portland

Side Job: Yojimbo (Part One)

Karkana Chronicles Four

December 29, 2012

Brianna has been spending her time going to other gyms, talking to managers, keeping an eye on fighters and on Brian O’Malley to see if they are coming off the effects of “The Juice”. Probably a half dozen fighters are going through withdrawal, that she can tell. She’s also bought another used car.

Today, she receives in the mail on fine card stock, an invitation for a New Years’ Eve party at Nirvana. She’s been trying to think of a way in to see check in with Nerise Patel again, to try and cement a bond with the Raiths. This may be an opportunity. She needs more friends in this town. She’s starting to make enemies.

Brianna decides to go shopping for some evening wear; something short and red with matching heels and a purse. Unfortunately, the invitation was not for a “plus one”, so she won’t be taking Joey with her on this one. That’s fine with him—he’s got plans anyway.

December 31, 2012

Coming home from their morning workout, Brianna notices that they are being followed by a nondescript, late-model Ford. Brianna manages to lose the tail and head back to the apartment. During the day, she periodically goes out and checks the block and parking lot to see if she sees the Ford. She never does.

Joey’s going to take the car tonight and Brianna will take a taxi. “Be careful,” Brianna tells Joey on the way out.

The taxi drops Brianna off at Nirvana. There’s a sign out front that the club is closed for a private event. There’s a doorman out in a tuxedo checking for invitations. Brianna presents hers and is allowed inside. The club is a scene of luxurious decadence. Decorations of silver and white fill the room. The dancers are (as usual) in various states of undress, but in matching outfits with the decor. Even some of the guests are dressed—barely so—in decadent grandeur. It almost like a scene from “Eyes Wide Shut.”

Brianna snags some champagne and finds a tall stool toward the back of the main dance floor to people-watch. She spots Nerise in mingling with the crowd in a sheer sari, Clive following in her wake. The Raith operative makes her way over to Brianna and says, “I’m glad you could make it.”

“Thank you for the invitation. This is quite a party. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it’s like.”

“I hope you enjoy it. We do need to talk later, though. But later. Enjoy yourself, now.”

Brianna nods, and nods at Clive. Clive nods in return. Nerise and Clive return to the crowd.

Brianna tries to identify the vampires in the room versus the mortals, but its too difficult. There’s so much touching and so much emotional energy in the room. Brianna pretty much waits it out in her place by the wall.

Soon, midnight rolls around and a giant glitterball explodes in the center of the room. Then, the fun begins. The energy in the room reaches a crescendo and people are not even bothering with the private booths any more, touching and making out and more right there in plain sight.

A woman approaches Brianna, swaying as if drunk.

“Hi. I’m Dottie.”

“Hi. Brianna.”

“Are you alone?”

“I’m waiting for someone.”

“I’m someone…”

“I’m waiting for Nerise.”

Dottie shrugs and walks away.

Finally, Clive approaches and motions for Brianna to follow him. Brianna stands and Clive leads the way through the orgy to the stairs. As usual, two armed guards are waiting outside. Brianna nods at them as Clive leads the way inside.

Nerise looks flush and sated. She moves languidly behind the desk, and has thrown a kimono on over her sari. She motions for Brianna to take a chair. Brianna sits.

“I know you don’t appreciate it a much as my bloodline,” Nerise says, “but I hope you enjoyed yourself.”

“It was a spectacular, so yes.”

“I did invite you here to discuss a business matter.”

“Oh? Very good.”

“One of the Raith cousins will be coming to Portland from Chicago to inspect the holdings and to have business meetings with me to discuss various matters of import. I wish to employ you to be her bodyguard for the duration of her visit.”

Brianna blinks, “I think you should know that I’ve never been employed as a bodyguard before.”

Nerise shrugs. “You’re a fighter, are you not?”

“I am. If something comes at me, I usually beat it down.”

“That’s what I want.”

“Are you expecting trouble?”

“No, not specifically. Have you heard of the battle between the Red Court and the White Council?”

Brianna nods, “Yes.”

“The White Court is technically neutral at this time. However, the Red Court has been extremely hostile of late. They even broke Accorded neutral ground.”

“Where is Accorded neutral ground in Portland?” Brianna asks.

“McMenamin’s Edgefield. So I want to be prepared for any eventuality. And, frankly, if I have a Karkana at my disposal, I’d rather use her.”

“Seems wise. I am intrigued by this offer. It’s good to have friends in Portland. There are always challenges when one is establishing territory. It is good to have allies.”

Nerise nods sagely. She then writes something on a slip of paper and slides it over to Brianna, who takes it. On it is written a substantial sum of money. “I’m sure that will be adequate compensation.” Brianna nods.

The two go over the details of the arrangement. Madeline Raith will arrive at the airport on the afternoon of January 3rd. She will be staying three to four days. She will be staying at The Nines luxury hotel in Old Town. Brianna will be picking her up at the airport with a driver. If she does not already have one, a firearm can be provided for her. Brianna is also given Clive’s card in case she needs a contact for any further details. With that she rises and shakes hands with Nerise and makes her way out. She gets a taxi home and takes a long shower.

January 1, 2013

The next morning, Joey comes dragging in from wherever he was the night before. Brianna gives him the run down of her meeting with Nerise.

“So I can’t fight next weekend? That sucks.” Brianna shows him the slip of paper with their payout on it. “I guess I’ll get over it.”

Brianna calls Mel Landry to cancel the fight. He’s kind of pissed about it but does it. After that, the two load up and head to Sibley’s Gym to workout.

While at Sibley’s, Brianna gets into a sparring match with another female fighter and wins—and fairly decisively. Afterwards, when Brianna gets cleaned up, she scouts the backdoor of the gym. Looking outside, she spies a nondescript late-model Ford. She texts this information to Joey and then sneaks out of the back door and makes her way stealthily toward the parked car. She peers into the car and sees the woman with the short pixie hair cut that was associated with Barnabas Gould. Brianna texts Joey: IT’S PIXIE HAIR.

Brianna then goes to open the passenger side door of the parked car, but finds that it is locked. She knocks on the window, startling the woman inside, who then starts the car. Brianna then steps in front of the car, daring the woman to run her down in broad daylight. Pixie Hair revs the engine and Brianna crosses her arms. Then she makes a “roll your window down motion”. Pixie Hair puts the car in the reverse and pulls around the stationary Brianna, leaving the parking lot. Brianna heads back inside.

Joey asks, “Did you beat her ass?”

“She locks her doors. This is not going to work.” Brianna looks thoughtful for a moment. They then go out to the car. They check it first for anything unusual. Satisfied that its been unmolested, they get in and head home.

Brianna spends the rest of the day making sure she has the clothes and gear she needs for her new bodyguard gig and checks out The Nines hotel online.

January 2, 2013

After their workout at Sibley’s that morning, Brianna notices that they have a tail following them home. Brianna tries to lead them into a blind alley, but Pixie Hair doesn’t fall for it. Brianna then pulls into an empty parking lot. The tail drives on. Brianna then pulls out and starts tailing her.

Pixie Hair follows a circuitous route to a warehouse in Southeast Portland. She parks next to a familiar grey and gold Lexus—Barnabas Gould.

Brianna parks the car and gets out, making her way to get a closer look at the warehouse. It has got security cameras and lights trained on the parking lot and exterior. She returns to the car and waits for a couple of hours. Nothing happens. She waits for a couple of hours more. By now, the sun is starting to go down. Barnabas Gould and his driver emerge from the building and get into the Lexus. They pull out of the parking lot and drive away. Soon thereafter, Pixie Hair emerges, clearly frustrated, and gets in her car. Brianna tails her to Beaverton, where she pulls into a parking lot at an apartment building.

As Pixie Hair gets out of her car and starts to make her way toward the building, Brianna gets out of her own car and, using her inhuman speed and her own stealth, seems to suddenly appear in Pixie Hair’s face.

“Hello, Pixie Hair. Getting real tired of you showing up at my place of business. First time is annoying. Second time pisses me off. What do you think happens the third time?” Brianna puts her hand on Pixie Hair’s face and pushes.

“Don’t touch me!” the woman hisses.

“I wonder if you would taste as lovely as your friend did. I suspect you would not like to find out…”

Pixie Hair shudders. “Don’t touch me, vampire.”

“You are severely stretching the strands of my graciousness. I want your oath. I don’t want to see you following me around—or I will drain you.”

“I can’t,” Pixie Hair says through gritted teeth, “I already have an oath.”

“To do what exactly?”

“To do what Gould says.”

“Gould is telling you to follow me?”

Pixie Hair snorts. “What do you think?”

“Why are you following me, Pixie Girl? What is it you want?”

“Of course Gould is telling me to follow you.”

“What does he want—besides putting you at great risk of harm…”

Pixie Hair sighs. “He wants to know where you live.”

Brianna smiles without mirth. “Isn’t that interesting? Did he mention why specifically?”

“Not to me.”

Brianna sighs. “This makes me sad. I thought we came to an arrangement.”

Suddenly, a thin wall of water appears between Brianna and Pixie Hair and the woman bolts across the parking lot. Brianna catches up to her easily and is in her face again.

“I don’t think we’re done. Tell your boss to back off and stay away.” Brianna turns and stalks off.

Brianna and Joey both get back in the car and drive away.

“Did you see that water?” Brianna asks.

Joey nods. “I’ve heard that practitioners can evoke power from the elements.”

Brianna grips the steering wheel hard. “Gould is after where we live.” She’s practically vibrating with rage as she and Joey discuss Gould and what to do about him. Has he broken the arrangement? He did back away from the syndicate with his damned juice. But he’s definitely still a threat and he’s not happy about their “arrangement”. In the end, its decided that Joey should lay low while Brianna takes the bodyguarding gig.

That night, Brianna has a lot on her mind as she packs for her busy day tomorrow. She’ll be meeting the driver at Nirvana to go pick up her charge at the airport.

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