The Dresden Files: Portland

Taking a Dive (Part Five)

Karkana Chronicles Twenty-One

September 28, 2013 (Saturday)

After heading out of the office, Brianna take a taxi by the warehouse just to see how many cars are parked there. The same two vehicles are there. She then heads to the apartment to get some sleep, setting her alarm to right after nightfall.

When the time comes to get up, she dresses in dark clothing, grabs the veil potion, and heads back to her original hiding position. She sticks to the shadows, waiting to see if the second car leaves around the same time as before. Eventually, two goons leave the warehouse and start heading for the smaller car. Before they get in, however, one of the men stops and nudges his companion. Then both start heading in Brianna’s direction at a pretty fast pace

Brianna sprints away, trying to lose the men in the darkness. With her supernatural speed, she easily outdistances them. Now that her hiding spot is compromised, Brianna decides to head upstream from the warehouse, hoping to find a way to approach the building from the riverside.

She moves stealthily towards the Willamette River. There isn’t enough of a bank to walk along, so Brianna has no choice but to swim. She slides into the cold, dark water and begins making her way downstream. The current is strong and Brianna is carried along more than she swims. However, she is able to grab onto the dock’s piers before being swept past. She climbs up and looks around. The dock leads up to a set of double doors that are partially open., revealing light from within the building. A set of security cameras are aimed at the doors. Brianna can also faintly hear the sound of talking, but can’t make out what they’re saying.

She moves silently along the wooden boards, trying to get closer, but also trying to stay out of range of the security cameras. She can make out several deep voices. One of the voices says, “The Masters will not be pleased. Do you know who they were?”

“No.”

The first voice speaks again, “Is it from the organization?”

“Perhaps.”

“Then our parcel within the organization did not give us warning. That is a problem. The Masters will not be pleased.”

“Whoever they were, they could move supernaturally fast.”

A third voice speaks up, “That does not sound like the organization.”

The first voice says, “No. It does not.”

A fourth voice asks, “What should we do, Gordon?”

The first voice, Gordon, says, “The two of you go out as usual. Try to find recruits. Keep an eye out for this interloper. I shall report to the Masters. They will not be pleased.”

Brianna hears the sound of a door opening and then she sees the light coming out of the door get blocked. Brianna knows she doesn’t have long before she is spotted. She quickly drinks the veil potion and quietly rolls off the dock, clinging to the boards underneath.

One set of footsteps passes overhead, the boards creaking. Then Brianna hears a splash of someone jumping off into the water. She waits silently, but doesn’t hear any sound of swimming. She peers over the side and sees a robe laying discarded on the end of the dock. Light is still emanating from the building, but she no longer hears any voices.

Brianna pulls herself back up to the top of the dock. Quietly, she moves and examines the robe, but finds nothing of interest. She also doesn’t see anyone in the water. She returns to the edge of the security camera range, pulling her jacket over her head to obscure her features, then ducks inside.

The inside of the warehouse is filled with various crates and boxes. A desk and a couple of chairs are arranged close together. One of the large goons is sitting on a chair, but stands up when Brianna enters the room. In a deep voice, he calls out “Hey!” and starts heading towards her. Brianna moves forward to engage.

Brianna gets the first swing at him. She chooses not to use any of her White Court powers, as not to tip off her nature to the goon. The big man clearly knows what he is doing and dodges her blow. He returns her swing, but Brianna is unable to get out of the way in time.

She punches again, but the goon proves very hard to hit. He doesn’t miss, and hits her hard. The big man doesn’t appear to have supernatural strength, but he’s still powerful.

Brianna tries again to connect, but he’s still too fast. She manages to dodge his return blow.

She misses again, then is missed in turn. Brianna is growing increasingly furious as she misses her opponent again, then dodges his blow. Her vampiric nature begins to manifest as she invokes her powers.

She finally manages to hit the goon, hitting him with a hammer blow. The man misses her.

However, with next round, she misses again. The man doesn’t miss her, and blackens her eye with a well-aimed punch.

She manages to connect once more and he takes damage, but only because of her supernatural strength. He hits her in turn.

Again she manages to hit the goon, bloodying his nose. However, he solidly returns the blow, leaving her with a split lip and a broken nose.

Brianna realizes that the fight isn’t going well for her. There are various papers sitting on the desk behind the man. She figures her best option is now for a grab and run. Trying to avoid getting hit again, she uses her supernatural speed to run through the warehouse to gain a bit of ground on the goon. He chases her, but Brianna manages to stay ahead of him.

She runs past the desk, grabs a handful of paperwork, and heads for the door. Luckily, it isn’t locked and she flings it open. As she tries to make her way outside, Brianna feels a very strong hand on her shoulder. However, she is able to pull away and sprints away. She hears footsteps behind her, but never slows down as she outdistances the goon.

Brianna runs until she thinks she has lost her pursuer. Ducking into the shadows, she gathers herself together. Her supernatural healing abilities kick in and some of her wounds fade until she is mostly just bruised. The night’s activities have caused her Hunger to surface, and she is incredibly pissed off and angry. She pulls her phone out, but it didn’t survive the swim in the river.

She stalks through the streets until she is finally able to locate a taxi. She has the cab driver take her to a well-lit bar. She finds a corner table, orders a whiskey double, and lays out the stolen papers before her. Whenever anyone gets too close to her table, she shoots them incredibly nasty looks.

The papers turn out to be invoices and bills of lading for various goods being held at Aquarian Enterprises. The merchandise seems to consist of imported tchotchkes, nothing of real monetary value, coming from one of three primary vendors out of Cambodia. A few documents bear Gordon Lyton’s signature as the General Manager. At the bottom of the stack, Brianna discovers a piece of what appears to be parchment paper with a weird laminated sheen. A spidery script in ink reads:

“Nirvana is Raith territory. Beware of hunting there. All others are fair game.”

Brianna gathers everything up and puts the papers back in her jacket. Donning her sunglasses, she targets the most drunk-looking crowd in the bar. As she passes, she brushes up against a particularly intoxicated person. She incites rage and feeds, trailing chaos in her wake as she leaves.

She takes a taxi to Walmart, buys a new phone, and texts Rupert that they need to meet soon. “A lot of shit went down tonight.” It’s close to 1:30 a.m., but he replies immediately.

“I can meet tonight if it’s urgent.”

Her return texts are brief. “Yep. Where?”

He sends an address, which turns out to be another bar. Brianna heads inside and finds Rupert at a booth. Brianna is very conscious of the fact that her face is bruised, her clothes are rumpled and dirty from her swim in the Willamette, and she doesn’t look as professional as she likes. Her jaw is clenched as she drops into the seat across from him and orders another whiskey double. Rupert is already sipping on a bourbon or whiskey of his own. He looks her over, then asks “So what’s so urgent?”

Brianna’s voice is bitter, “Well, tonight went a little more fucked-sideways than I was expecting it to go.”

Rupert raises an eyebrow. “Oh?”

Brianna gives him a rundown of the night’s events, an expletive or two escaping as she tells what happened. She watches him closely for any flicker of recognition or emotion, but his face isn’t giving anything away.

As she finishes, Rupert states calmly, “So, you allowed yourself to be compromised.”

Brianna’s voice is tight, “It certainly fucking sounds like that doesn’t it? And allowed isn’t really the word I was looking for, Rupert. That makes it sound like it was by choice.”

“Your choices are what got you there.”

She shoots back at him, glaring. “Don’t fucking mince words with me right now. I’m not in the mood.” Brianna sits down her glass with a bit more force than necessary. She fishes in her coat and lays out the stolen papers. “This is what I have to show for this evening, besides being in a spectacularly bad mood.” She taps forcefully on the piece of parchment that lays on top. “The good news is that they don’t think I’m from the V.U. since the organization doesn’t hire supernatural creatures.”

Rupert gives her a disdainful look, “Not usually.”

Brianna leans in close and says in an low voice, “Mortals aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, either. You’ve pissed me off a lot Rupert, but you’ve never struck me as a bigot.”

Rupert turns his attention to the parchment. Brianna comments, “That worries me outside of just this particular job. They may have been avoiding my Court at this point, but they know we’re there. And after the events of tonight, it’s going to be fairly clear what he was dealing with. Now, I get to be worried about that fallout.”

“Have you ever heard of the Fomor,” he asks, finally.

“No.”

“They’re an aquatic race. Very mysterious shape-shifters and sorcerers. As a faction, they’ve been very quiet until now. That is what I suspect we’re dealing with.”

“Been quiet up until now, as in until the events of tonight? Or is there something else you’ve been sitting on?”

“The events of tonight.”

“And the Fomor have a mole in your office?”

“That is what I’m beginning to suspect.”

Brianna shakes her head, “Why?”

Rupert replies, “I really don’t know.”

“I’m guessing it’s part of the reason why John and Julie were killed. The reason that I was in that warehouse to begin with was because that was where the bodies most likely went in the river. The autopsy reports were consistent with bruising and ligation marks being made by large human hands. That nasty, smelly Fomor-thing I encountered tonight was very good at what he was doing.”

“What you encountered was not the Fomor.”

“I thought that’s what you said we were dealing with.”

“What you encountered was their human servant.”

Brianna shakes her head, “That wasn’t human.”

“They change them.”

“What do you mean they change them? To be smelly and big?”

“To be pliable and able to serve.”

“Well, that’s fucked up,” Brianna retorts.

“You’ll get no arguments from me on that for once,” Rupert smiles without humor.

“They don’t make them bigger? They were really big and strong.”

“They select them for that purpose.”

Brianna orders the two of them another round of drinks. “Well, that doesn’t bode well if all four of them are running around.” She grits her teeth, but continues, “I’m not particularly a slouch in this department, but that did not go well. I would not want to do that again without backup.”

“So, what is your next move?”

“I think that warehouse is pretty much dead to me at this point. They’re going to be agitated. The only other thing on my agenda was to talk to Ramos on Monday morning to see who could have had access to those files.” She sighs, “However, they have my face now. So I suspect that will be another thing I’m dodging. I guess the only saving grace is that they didn’t seem to think I’m from the organization, so they won’t be looking for me there.”

“If they change their mind about my connections with the organization, then they will most likely be very angry at their package. This means the mole will be under more stress because of the Masters being pissed off, which means he or she may make a big move. If there isn’t any repercussions for the mole, then it’s back to just wandering around and trying to determine who they are.”

“Okay.”

Brianna holds up the piece of parchment in front of Rupert, “Regardless, this isn’t something that should be sat upon. What are you planning to do about it?”

“I will take it to Mr. Smith.”

“Good. I guess I can try to research these three companies and see what I find. Maybe they’re front organizations.” She straightens, downs the rest of her drink, and stands, saying “Well, I’m glad we had this talk.”

She goes home. Since it’s almost 3:00 a.m., she quietly slips into her room and goes to bed.

September 29, 2013 (Sunday)

Brianna’s face is still pretty bruised this morning. Joey comments on it over breakfast. “It did not go well last night.” she says flatly.

“Well, hopefully it went worse for the other guy.”

“I don’t know that it did. This has been a bit interesting.” Brianna doesn’t get into details about why she was hired or where she was, but she mentions that there’s another faction in town that causing trouble. She asks him, but Joey hasn’t heard of the Fomor. “Their agents are in town. Hunting. Be careful out there.”

After applying makeup to hide her bruising, Brianna calls a taxi and heads into the office. There are not a lot of people there on a Sunday, although she does see Esmeralda Ramos. As Brianna puts her things down, Ramos doesn’t seem to be glaring at her as before. Brianna heads over to the records room.

“Ms. Ramos.”

“Ms. Daniels.”

“I have a question for you.”

“Okay.”

“Who has access to personnel files, exactly. Under normal circumstances?”

“Twelfth floor personnel. Myself.”

“Are those the only people who have access?”

“Yes.”

Brianna watches her face closely. “So, if something was altered in an agent’s file, those would be the only people who had access to it.”

She replies, “Those are the only people who have authorized access.”

“I’m assuming everything is kept under lock and key.”

Ramos confirms, “There is a security system.” She points to a camera behind Brianna’s head and a bio-metric thumbprint lock behind her that leads to the records area. She pauses, then calmly asks “Is there something you’re trying to say, Ms. Daniels?”

Brianna smiles thinly. “Just trying to figure out who would have had access to remove things from people’s files.”

“Is there a point to this line of questioning?”

“Nope. I just need to figure out where any problems in the system may be.”

“Is there a problem?”

“There’s missing information, so I guess so.”

“What information is missing? Perhaps I can be of service.”

“Well, not unless you can tell me who may have excised the last case information from a couple of files and why.”

“Perhaps if you tell me what files, I could be of service.”

Brianna stares at her “John McGee and Julie Dunn.” Her voice takes on an steely edge, “You wouldn’t happen to know anything about that, would you?”

Ramos gulps visibly, but says “I don’t know anything about that.” She appears to be telling the truth, but is obviously intimidated by Brianna. “Those were the files you were looking at yesterday, right?”

“Yep.” She presses harder, “Has anyone else been asking about them?”

“No. None that I know of.”

“Can you tell how many times the records room was accessed in the last several weeks?”

“Yes.”

“I need to know who those people were.”

“That’s confidential,” Ramos shakes her head.

“If it’s been proven that files have been tampered with on your watch, how’s that going to look for you?”

“I see where you’re coming from, and I’ll do what I can, but I could lose my job.”

Brianna’s voice is flat, “You could lose your job either way.”

Ramos concedes, “I’ll do what I can.”

“How long is it going to take for you to get that information?”

“A day.”

“Alright.” Brianna goes back to her desk to do research on the companies doing business with Aquarian Enterprises. She doesn’t find anything out of the ordinary. Every so often, she looks over toward Ramos sits.

When Ramos gathers her things to leave, Brianna decides to follow her. As soon as the elevator doors close, Brianna sprints to the stairwell. Careful not to use her superhuman speed in case of cameras, she hauls ass to get to the parking garage floor right before the elevator doors open.

Brianna hovers in the stairwell, trying to observe Ramos undetected. Looking around, Brianna doesn’t see Ramos’ car. When the elevator dings, much to Brianna’s surprise, Calvin emerges wearing a dress. It’s the same dress Ramos was wearing a few minutes ago.

Brianna steps forward, calling out in a ringing voice. “Calvin. That’s a fetching color.” And she snaps a picture of him with her phone. He looks at her startled, as she sends the photo to Rupert. “Neat trick, that. Is that a potion? A veil? Are you a shape-shifter?” Brianna texts Rupert. “Now! Parking garage, now!”

She resumes talking to Calvin, “When you do that, does it give you her biometrics as well? Like with fingerprints and crap like that?” Her voice starts to raise, “Because that would be fucking convenient for you, wouldn’t it, Calvin? So, why don’t you tell me what you’ve been up to, asshole?!” The look in her eyes is vicious, “Because we’ve got people who are dead and I’m wondering how much of a hand in it you had!”

Calvin appears to be quite intimated by Brianna, but he pulls a gun from underneath his dress and aims it at her.

“You will fucking regret that if you try” she snaps coldly. And she snaps another picture and sends it to Rupert. “I don’t know, Calvin, maybe that will look really good in inter-office mail. Hold on for one second. I’m sure the Twelfth Floor is going to fucking love this.” She gestures at the gun with her other hand. “What, are you going to shoot me? That’s your big plan to get out of here?” Her eyes are steely, “Why don’t you put the fucking gun down? Don’t make this worse for yourself.”

Calvin cocks the gun, and Brianna simply laughs at him. He says, “I was going to have the Masters take care of you, but I guess I’m going to have to do it myself.”

“You can fucking try. Do I look worried? Not really.”

Brianna notices Calvin’s finger is tightening on the trigger and uses her supernatural speed to move to him, knocking the gun out of his hand. He takes a swing at her, but misses. Brianna returns his punch, clocking him hard and breaking his nose.

Calvin tries to hit her again and connects. She punches him back, blackening his eye. It’s enough to make Calvin surrender. Brianna takes the belt from his dress and ties his hands behind his back. She makes him sit down until Rupert arrives.

Eventually, Rupert shows up. Brianna catches the amused look on his face. She points to Calvin, “He had some sort of spell on him. He was shifted. He was Ms. Ramos upstairs. I don’t know if he was to be trusted, but he said that the only people that had access to the files was the Twelfth Floor and Ms. Ramos … or, a shape-shifted asshole who has the same biometric access as Ms. Ramos. Plus, he did make some sort of sarcastic comment,” and Brianna pauses to lightly cuffs him, “about giving me to the Masters, so I think this may be our mole.”

“Is that so,” Rupert says.

“Yes,” Brianna hisses. She points out the fallen gun to Rupert, then gets very close to Calvin’s face. “Would you like to tell Mr. Rupert something, or would you like me to beat the shit out of you some more?”

Calvin speaks up, “This is only a minor setback for the Masters.”

Brianna pokes Calvin sharply in the chest, “Your own people died because of you. People you’re supposed to be protecting. This isn’t a minor setback. This is the beginning of the end. And you’re the first one going down.” The look in her eyes is hollow and her voice is ice cold.

Calvin looks a bit cowed and turns to Rupert “Since when have the monsters worked for us?”

Brianna re-positions herself so she is starting dead into Calvin’s eyes. “That’s funny. I only see one monster here. Who betrays their own? Hmm? Must be you?”

She backs up to let Rupert approach. “What do you want done with him? If it were up to me?” She pauses significantly. “But it’s not up to me, it’s up to you.”

“I’ll be calling Mr. Smith.”

“Do you want me to walk away at this point? Or do you want me to wait with you?”

“I don’t know, I’ll let Mr. Smith make that determination.”

“Very good.” Brianna withdraws so Rupert can make a private phone call, but keeps an eye on the situation in case things go badly. She is feeling very jittery from all of the use of her vampiric powers.

After a bit, Rupert comes over to where Brianna stands. He arches an eyebrow at her, but doesn’t say anything else about her behavior. She asks, “Do you think he’s been feeding people to the Fomor? He’s had access to all of those personnel files.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of.”

“Unfortunately, when I was talking to him, he was in the records room for another 30 minutes after I spoke with him. He may have been trying to cover his tracks.”

“We’ll look into it. Mr. Smith says that for your services you have our gratitude and the rest of your payment has been forwarded to your account. You are free to go.”

“May I ask what he said about the Fomor? What they’re doing in town? Why they’re picking up people?”

“We didn’t discuss it at this time.”

“Okay. I’m going back upstairs to get my purse. Do you want to meet one more time? I still have the folder with the personnel information.”

Rupert agrees and Brianna nods at him. As she passes Calvin on the way to the elevator, she tells him “To be nice to Mr. Rupert. Because if I have to track you down, it’s going to have a different outcome.” Calvin is visibly shaking.

She goes back home.

A few days later, she meets with Rupert to turn in her fake ID and the personnel files. He tells her everything went okay with the transfer of the package. She tells him that she was glad to be of help. “I don’t particularly care for people who don’t protect their own.”

He replies quietly, “Neither do we.”

She offers her hand and he takes it. “Looks like more interesting things are happening in Portland.”

He nods. “Looks like it.”

“I plan to do investigating on my own.”

He meets her eyes. “I have no doubt.”

The two part ways.

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