The Dresden Files: Portland

Side Job: Yojimbo (Part Three)

Karkana Chronicles Four

January 4, 2013 (Night)

The four White Court vampires lounge in the hotel room, waiting for their prisoner to recover from his injuries sufficiently to talk. Brianna Karkana rises and goes to wipe the blood from her own injuries off of herself. Eventually, the Red Court vampire begins to stir.

Brianna looks to Nerise. “Were you wanting to talk or transport him at this point?”

“Talk.”

“Alright.”

Brianna hauls the vampire up. Nerise says, her voice commanding, “Tread lightly here, bloodsucker.”

The Red Court vamp breaks his meager bonds and stretches. Its ectoplasmic flesh mask slowly grows back into place over its frightful, bat-like body and before them stands ayoung man with blonde hair and pouty lips. He looks a lot like a 90s club kid. Brianna positions herself next to the vampire, close to Madeline Raith.

“Who sent you?” Nerise asks.

The Red Court vamp chuckles. “Why should I tell you?”

Nerise shrugs. “All we have is time. If you cooperate, we’ll take you out of here. If not, we’ll wait for sunrise and then open just open the curtains.”

Red Court loses some of his cockiness at that and looks wary. “I work alone.”

Madeline snorts.

Nerise says, “Somehow I don’t believe you. The Red Court is not active in Portland. Are you from out of town?”

“Nope. Portland, born and bred.”

Brianna says to the Red Court vampire, in a very quiet voice. “Stop lying or I’ll break your fucking fingers.” The vampire looks over at Brianna for the first time and manages to look cowed. Brianna continues. “Why don’t you tell the lady the truth. She asked you a question.”

Perhaps the vampire thought back to the feeding that Brianna had just had at his expense, or perhaps it was the dangerous look in her eye, but something clicked in the creature’s head that obviously made the thought of Brianna being angry a traumatizing prospect for him.

“Answer the lady,” Brianna says.

“I’m from Seattle.”

Brianna looks at Nerise. Nerise motions for Brianna to continue.

“Why were you hunting this young woman?” Brianna asks, indicating Madeline.

“Because she’s Madeline Raith.”

Brianna walks in a circle around the Red Court vamp. “Who sent you after her?”

“The orders came from the Margrave.”

“What were your orders exactly?”

“I was to release the weapon I was making.”

“What weapon were you making?

" I had a practitioner under my control. I was to use her to kill Madeline Raith and to make it look like the White Council ordered it. "

Brianna stops circling the man. “How did you get so much information about when Madeline was coming in, where she was staying? How did you get so much information?”

“I received the flight information from the Margrave’s people. My weapon tracked you from the club to the hotel. I watched you at the hotel.”

“How were you controlling your weapon?”

The Red Court vampire smiles. “I guess you could say she was addicted to me.”

Brianna makes a disgusted face and continues. “How long were you given? How long until your masters know something went wrong?”

The vampire cocks his head toward Madeline. “She wasn’t to leave Portland alive.”

“What’s your name?” Brianna asks.

“Ricky”

“And where are you staying?”

He names a nearby hotel.

“Is the red Pontiac your car?”

He shakes his head. " No, it was Laurie’s. "

“She drove you down here?”

“Yes.”

Brianna looks at Nerise. “Is there anything else you’d like to know, ma’am?”

Nerise looks at Ricky. “Why did you attack if you wanted the White Council to be blamed?”

“Desperation. You had defeated my weapon and I needed to get the job done. So I thought I could dispatch you both as a Warden.”

Brianna chuckles. “I guess the plan did not go accordingly.” She looks at Nerise again. “Did you have any further questions, ma’am?”

Nerise shakes her head.

Madeline raises her hand. “I have a question. Why is this sack of blood still alive?”

Brianna’s eyes flick between Nerise and Madeline.

Nerise sighs. “Because we can’t make a mess here, can we?”

Madeline hisses. “He tried to kill me. Three times. I can’t let that stand.”

Brianna holds in a smile as she drinks in Madeline’s anger.

Suddenly, Madeline is moving toward Ricky and Brianna makes a split-second decision. She places herself between Madeline and Ricky, forcing the other woman to come up short or plow through her. She gives Brianna a look full of rage.

“Perhaps there’s a better place to resolve this?” Brianna asks. “A place with less of a mess for our hostess to clean up. There’s been a lot of clean-up lately.” Madeline stares at Brianna balefully.

Nerise says, “I agree. Come, let us go. I know just the place.”

Brianna smiles at Madeline, her eyes dilated, clearly enjoying the display of rage the other woman is making.

Ricky says, “I thought if I cooperated, you would let me go.”

Nerise turns to him and says, “I said we would take you out of here. That’s exactly what we’re going to do.”

Brianna backs up closer to Ricky, watching Madeline.

Nerise says, “Madeline, why don’t you call the car?”

Madeline stops staring at Brianna and stalks into the bedroom. After a minute, she returns and says that Timothy will be ready in a moment.

Nerise motions toward the door. “Shall we?”

Brianna positions herself behind Ricky while Clive leads the way to the elevator. Nerise and Madeline fall into the line behind Brianna. They all load up into the elevator and Nerise hits the button to go to the lobby.

Ricky then moves to punch Clive. Brianna notices and moves quicker, trying to grab the Red Court vampire’s arm. She misses. But Clive manages to dodge the punch and then elbows Ricky in the face. A trickle of blood leaks from the creature’s flesh mask. Brianna then tells Ricky “You better settle the fuck down.” He sighs and seems sufficiently cowed.

The elevator “dings” and opens and Brianna says to Clive “You ready?” Clive leads the way once again. As they pass the front desk, Ricky mouths “help me” to the staff at the desk. Brianna notices and notes that some of the staff are looking in their direction. Brianna leans in real close to the Red Court vamp. “That’s enough of that.” Despite that, they make it through the lobby unaccosted.

Once outside, they make their way to the waiting limousine. Once they get settled into the seat, with Ricky pinned between Brianna and Clive, Brianna says “Not very nice, telling staff ‘help me’ as we left.” She also points out that a couple of the staff were paying attention as they left.

Madeline says, “We should have fed on him upstairs.”

Nerise shakes her head. “There’s only so much food poisoning that can occur at a 5-star hotel in one day.”

Nerise uses the speaker to give Timothy directions to their destination while Madeline sits and seethes. Brianna asks Nerise “Do we worry about our rooms being compromised while we’re gone? They wouldn’t call the police, go through our things?”

“Based on what?”

Brianna jerks her head toward Ricky.

“No,” Nerise continues “I don’t believe it would get that far.”

“There’s a lot of bloody washcloths, but it’s all my blood. I guess I’ll be bagging the trash when I leave the room.”

“At most there’ll be questions asked by a hotel detective when we return without our friend,” Nerise reassures her.

“Alright,” Brianna says.

The car finally arrives at Nerise’s destination, a marina on the river. Everyone unloads from the car. Nerise leads the way to a closed slip. Inside is a sizable yacht. Nerise climbs on board and everyone else follows. She leads them into a cabin area and then she continues on to the captain’s station.

Clive turns to Brianna. “Can you handle him? Nerise will need my help.”

“Yes,” Brianna says.

The boat vibrates as Nerise fires up the engines. Clive excuses himself, leaving Madeline, Brianna, and Ricky alone in the cabin.

Madeline turns to Brianna and says, very calmly, “If you get in my way again, I will end you.”

Brianna nods. “I guess we have an understanding, then.”

Nerise returns and the boat starts to move. Everyone takes a seat and Madeline sits and stares at Ricky. Nerise asks Ricky if there is anything more he wishes to tell.

Traumatized and cowed, Ricky hangs his head. “I think I’ve said enough.”

Nerise looks at Madeline, who smiles and slinks over to Ricky. She places both of her hands on his head. Soon, a lust-filled glaze fills Ricky’s eyes, then he seizes and slumps over, dead. Madeline, breathless and sated, re-takes her seat.

Clives comes down and nods to Nerise. Nerise indicates the slumped corpse and Clive takes the body in a fireman’s carry and hauls it up on deck.

Brianna raises her hand. “May I ask a question?” Nerise looks at her. “Who’s the Margrave?”

Nerise says “The Margrave is a title in the Red Court. So the hit on Madeline was ostensibly ordered by a noble of that Court.”

“That seems like an act of war.”

Nerise nods. “Lord Raith will need to know of this.”

Brianna looks at Madeline. Madeline nods. “I will call Lara.”

Brianna, knowing when she’s not needed, says “I will get some fresh air.” She turns and goes up on deck. She sees Clive up at the captain’s station, navigating the boat. Brianna sits in a deck chair and props up her feet.

After a while, Brianna hears a crash in the cabin. She rushes to her feet and runs, throwing open the cabin door to find Madeline and Nerise inside, and a broken vase lying on the floor in front of the door. “I’m sorry,” she says. “I thought something was wrong.”

“Something is wrong,” Madeline says “My cousin has no sense of family honor.” She begins to pace the room.

Brianna looks at Nerise. Nerise explains. “Word will be sent to Lord Raith. However, Lara is sure that satisfaction is met with the death of young Ricky.”

Brianna frowns, but is silent—but then changes her mind and speaks. “So this is not being considered a breach of the Accords? Especially in light of the conflict with the White Council?”

Madeline continues to pace, but Nerise says, “That decision is for Lord Raith, but his daughter does have a lot of influence.”

“I see,” Wave after wave of sweet rage is coming off of Madeline. “Perhaps it’s best if wait on deck.”

Madeline stops her pacing and turns to Nerise. “I think I am going to cut my business in Portland short. I’m sure our holding are in good standing, as always. I’m going to Seattle.”

Brianna starts backing out of the room.

“Brianna,” Madeline says, “you are welcome to come with me if you wish.”

“You are offering me to continue work as your bodyguard?”

“Yes. I’ll need someone watching my back in Seattle.”

“I wasn’t sure how satisfied you were with my services.”

“I’m quite satisfied with your services, but I also meant what I said before.”

Brianna nods. “I understand, but I also need you to understand that if I need to intercede in someway to protect you, I will.”

“Then let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.”

“How long do you expect to be in Seattle?”

Madeline shrugs. “I don’t know.”

Brianna crosses her arms. “I’m having a particular challenge to my territory that I’ve been keeping an eye on. If things start to move in my absence, I may need to come back to Portland to protect what’s mine.”

Madeline stares at her. “Do you wish to go or not?”

“Yes.”

“Can you leave tonight?”

“I have to make a few arrangements, but yes.”

“Then it is settled.”

Nerise says, “I think this is a bad idea.”

Madeline shoots her a look. “I didn’t ask.”

Brianna asks Nerise if she can speak to her for a moment. " I’m going to contact my associate. You’ve met him, Joey, to tell him of my absence. As I told Madeline, if things start to move in my territory, I will be returning to Portland. If Joey finds himself in need of immediate help, may he come to you, in full recognition that I will be in your debt for such assistance?"

Nerise thinks for a moment, and then says. “In full recognition that being on call in such a way incurs a debt.”

Brianna nods. “Very well.”

Brianna goes on deck and calls Joey. “This gig is going to take longer than I originally thought—I’ll be accompanying the client to Seattle.”

“Seattle? I’m not going to get to fight again, am I?”

“I’m going to call Mel so you can get some fighting in now. We can get a stand-in manager with my contacts around the gyms. Has there been any trouble since I’ve been gone?”

“No.”

“Well, keep sharp. I’ve talked to Nerise. If something starts to go south, call me and I will come home. However, if you need immediate help, go to Nerise.”

“Alright.”

“I’ll call you when I get into Seattle. I’ll call Mel tomorrow and get things arranged. I don’t want you to miss any more time in the ring than you have to.”

She hangs up as the boat begins to slow down, pulling back into the slip. Brianna returns to the cabin. As she enters, she overhears Madeline saying “…figure it out when I get there.”

Brianna announces that things are arranged on her end, although there are other details to work out. She touches her holstered gun. “I have something that still belongs to you,” she tells Nerise.

“Keep it. You may need it.”

“It may be hard to get on a plane. I’m not licensed. I’d rather not be stopped by the TSA.”

They all feel the boat come to a stop.

Nerise shrugs. “Then return it.”

Brianna looks at Madeline. “IF you want me to have a gun to protect you, then we need to drive to Seattle.”

Madeline looks exasperated. “Fine. Can we get on with this?”

Brianna continues. “Somewhere along the way, I’m going to have to get a change of clothing being as how the majority of mine is burnt or shredded. This can be done en route. I did not pack for an extended trip.”

Clive comes down into the cabin.

Brianna continues. “If you’re wanting to leave tonight, it’s checking out of the hotel, securing transportation, and getting on the road.”

Clive motions for everyone to exit the boat. Brianna takes a position ahead of Madeline. Timothy is still waiting with the car. Every climbs inside and the car pulls out of the marina. Nerise tells Timothy to return to The Nines.

Brianna turns to Madeline. “And if we get questioned by a hotel detective? How good are you at talking your way out of things?”

Madeline gives her a deadpan look.

Brianna shrugs and says, “That’s not my style,” and returns the deadpan look.

Madeline turns to the Nerise and says, “As far as transportation, may I borrow this car and Timothy?”

“No,” Nerise says firmly. “I’m not supporting this fiasco.”

Madeline actually seems to pout.

The car pulls up to the hotel and everyone gets out. Brianna nods to Clive and says goodnight to Nerise and then Madeline and Brianna head inside.

They make it through the lobby with no problem and head up to the room. They both spend a short amount of time packing. Brianna then takes all of the blood strips of shirt, washcloths, and the like and puts them in a trash liner and then shoves them in her dufflebag. Once they are both ready, they head downstairs.

Madeline checks out and arranges for a taxi to be called for them. The taxi takes them to the airport, where they go to one of the car rental companies to secure a car. Madeline picks a rather sporty model, but implies that Brianna is to drive by settling into the passenger seat. Brianna secures the luggage and sets the GPS for Seattle and the two White Court vampires head north.

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