The Dresden Files: Portland

Taking a Dive (Part Three)

Karkana Chronices Twenty-One

September 27, 2013 (Friday)

Brianna decides to start her day by visiting the records room and putting in an information request with Esmerelda Ramos. She wants to compare the last cases the murdered agents were last working on to see if there were any similarities. However, Brianna is crisply informed that she doesn’t have the necessary clearance to see that information.

Undeterred, Brianna tracks down Rupert. She’s noticed him moving around the office floor, appearing to supervise other staff. He looks up as she approaches.

“Ms. Daniels.”

“Mr. Rupert. May we speak privately?”

“Very well.” He ushers her into a conference room.

Brianna continues, “Esmerelda tells me I don’t have clearance to look at anything that John and Julie were working on before they died to see if there were any commonalities.”

Rupert confirms, “No. You wouldn’t have the clearance to look at the case files of another agent.”

“So, am I going to be able to get those files from you? Or I am I supposed to just assume that other people have already looked over them for evidence that John and Julie were pissing someone off? Someone who would beat them, kill them, and throw their bodies in the river?”

“If you suddenly have that clearance, it’s going to look awfully suspicious.”

“I understand that. I don’t know if you have that clearance.”

“I do.” There is a long pause. Finally, Rupert says “I’ll see what I can do.”

“Okay. Redact what you need to redact. I’m just trying to find patterns. It’s a lot more difficult to be subtle if I just start going around and asking people why they thought these two agents were killed.”

“I understand.”

Brianna meets his eyes squarely, “Unless the general idea was that I’m supposed to ask a lot of questions and become the target of the next attack.”

Rupert smiles thinly. “Mr. Smith is counting on your competence, but is also aware of your expendability.”

Brianna’s smile matches his. “I’m not that easily expendable.”

“We’ll see what we can do about those files.”

“I’m trying to pick up what I can. When Mr. Smith hired me, he knew my skill set didn’t involve sweet-talking people and getting them to talk without realizing that I am prying. If the idea is for me to be subtle about this, then the information you can get me will be much more helpful. I want to do this job well. I don’t want anyone else getting killed.”

“This is why you have a handler.”

Brianna snorts. “Your lucky day. Alright, see what you can get me. I don’t know how much you want to be informed on what I’m doing, but I may be down on the waterfront later on today.”

Rupert nods and Brianna leaves the conference room. She decides to spend time chit-chatting with her coworkers, trying to pick up on all of the office gossip. She quickly determines that the biggest gossip in her department is Dan Dawes. From him, Brianna learns that there’s a lot of speculation about the murders. There’s even talk about a mole in the organization, although it appears that Dan has been the one spreading those particular rumors. It’s unclear if anyone else believes him. When Brianna asks him about the mole’s influence, he thinks “it goes all the way up” to the top of the organization.

Later that afternoon, Brianna’s phone rings. It’s Roy Dale. From the information she gave him earlier, he was able to triangulate a possible location on the waterfront where the bodies went into the river. It seems to be near a warehouse. Brianna quickly gathers her things. As she heads out the door, she notices that Calvin is watching her with a concerned expression on his face.

Briana calls a taxi to take her to the waterfront. The warehouse that Roy pinpointed is an older building, with a chipped and pealing wooden sign reading Aquarian Enterprises. It has two big bay doors and a nearby smaller door, perhaps leading to an office. A security camera sits outside the smaller door and a security camera and light system are stationed outside the bay doors. The building doesn’t appear to be open, but a late 80s model sedan is parked on the street outside.

As Brianna tries to unobtrusively scope out the place, a late 80s hatchback pulls up beside the first car. Two very large men with turtlenecks and pea coats get out. Besides choosing an odd fashion choice, the men also seem a little overdressed for the weather. As the men start to pass where Brianna is lurking, they stop, looking in her direction. Up this close, she notices that there is a very “off” smell about them: a weird combination of stagnant water and rotting fish. In a deep basso voice, one of the men says “Come out.”

She complies. One of them asks, “What are you doing here?”

Brianna shrugs. “I don’t know that it’s any business of yours. What else is a woman going to do when she sees two huge men walking up? This isn’t a good neighborhood.”

The other man says, “Get out of here.”

She edges away, but watches the two men as she does. They return her stare. Brianna leaves the neighborhood and grabs a taxi back to the office. By the time she returns, it’s about 4:00 in the afternoon. She sits at her desk and starts researching Aquarian Enterprises, but doesn’t have any luck. After cursing under her breath at her computer, she finally texts Roy Dale the name of the warehouse and arranges for him to research it.

Right after that, Rupert walks by Brianna’s desk and drops a packet of folders on her desk. She mutters her thanks and starts going through them. Some things are redacted, although a lot more is redacted out of John’s file (probably since his is much larger). In looking at their recent cases, Brianna does notice that for each agent there’s a large chunk of time missing between their last case and their death.

By this point, it’s close to 9:00 p.m. Brianna gets up and stretches, looking around the office. Calvin and Lydia are both still working at their desks. Esmeralda is standing outside of the records room, her eyes shooting daggers at Brianna. When Brianna catches her gaze, she raises an eyebrow. Esmeralda’s eyes narrow.

Puzzled, Brianna places the files in her purse and leaves the office, saying goodbye to people as she leaves. As she passes Esmeralda, Brianna says “Goodnight, Ms. Ramos.” The woman just continues to glare at her.

“Have I done something to upset you? This is not a friendly look you’re giving me.”

“Security clearances are there for a reason.”

“Alright then. Sorry to upset you.” Brianna leaves the office, silently speculating that she’ll never get anything out of the records room again. Before heading home, Brianna hides to see if she’s being followed. She sees Lydia leave the building, go to her car, and drive away. A while later, she watches Calvin and Esmeralda do the same.

Brianna swings by her apartment first, hiding the file folders in the ventilation shaft in her room. She grabs the invisibility potion and heads back to the warehouse, having the taxi drop her off several blocks away.

She stealthily makes her way to Aquarian Enterprises. The two cars are still parked on the street outside. Brianna moves into the shadows across the street and hides. After a couple of hours (about midnight), two large men exit the warehouse and leave in one of the cars. About two in the morning, the car returns and the men reenter the building.

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