The Dresden Files: Portland

Taking a Dive (Part Two)

Karkana Chronicles Twenty-One

September 26, 2013 (Thursday)

Brianna examines the maps of the Willamette waterfront while she waits for the autopsy report from the records room. There are several miles of waterfront to cover. She decides to wander the coffee break room, office floor, and cafeteria to observe people.

Everyone is acting pretty normal, except for Lydia—who keeps acting twitching and eyeing Brianna. So Brianna gets a cup of coffee and swings by Lydia’s desk.

“Hi!” she says brightly.

“Hi,” Lydia replies, more warily.

“So, first day on the job. Just wondering about lunch. Do we eat here?”

“Most of us do,” Lydia says, looking nervous.

Brianna lowers her voice, “Forgive me for asking, but are you alright? You look a little pale.”

Lydia looks down at her work and says, “I’m fine.”

“Alright.” Brianna pauses, not sure how much to push the conversation.

Brianna looks up and sees Calvin coming from the other direction. She smiles at him as he approaches. He stops and says, “Hello, Brianna. Hello, Lydia.”

Lydia continues to work. Brianna replies, “I was just talking to Lydia about the cafeteria here. Is the food good?”

“It’s passable. You want to pass it as quickly as possible,” Calvin says with a grin.

“Ah, I see what you did there,” Brianna smiles in return.

“But, you know, it’s free.”

“What time does everyone head there?” Brianna asks.

“That depends on where their work takes them,” Calvin says.

“Well, maybe I’ll see you guys there.”

“Maybe so,” Calvin replies, pleasantly.

As Brianna walks away, Calvin catches up to her. “Don’t mind Lydia,” he says. “She hasn’t been herself since the incident.”

“Since the incident? She seems really jumpy.”

“Well, if you got taken to the Nevernever by a Knowledge demon, you’d be a bit jumpy, too.”

“Oh. Poor girl,” Brianna looks back to where Lydia is bent over her desk. “Clearly someone was able to retrieve her. Or did she free herself?”

“She freed herself.”

“Oh, that’s horrible,” Brianna shakes her head. “I imagine that’s the kind of thing that sticks with you. They allowed her to go back to work?”

“Primarily as a researcher.”

“Ah, so she’s not really a field agent anymore.”

“No,” Calvin confirms.

“Was this recently?” Brianna asks.

“It was about nine months ago.”

“Well, I’m glad it’s not me. I was wondering if I had done something to offend her,” Brianna says.

“No,” Calvin says and walks away.

Brianna continues to wander about the floor and sit at her desk until lunch. She heads over to the cafeteria and gets in line for food. The good-sized room is filled with “lawyers” sitting with each other, talking shop. She sees Rupert sitting with some agents and makes eye contact with him. He doesn’t return the contact, so Brianna gets the impression he doesn’t need to talk to her.

Brianna sits down to eat her lunch and tries to listen in on the conversations going on around her. The agents are discussing past exploits, using code words and jargon. A lot of what they do is intelligence work—not as much actually busting in a door and hunting down vampires. Eventually, the conversation turns to the murdered agents, John McGee and Julie Dunn. People are hoping that it’s not a Red Court problem, but the speculation is that it doesn’t really sound like Red Court. Brianna interjects that it doesn’t sound like Red Court to her, either. She asks if the two were working together and no one seems to know. No one at her table was particularly close to either of the murdered agents.

After lunch, Brianna heads back up to records and Esmerelda Ramos hands her two reports. “You’ll have to look at them here,” she tells Brianna.

“Ah, I was wondering how that worked.”

Brianna takes a seat at a small table in the records room and starts studying the reports, noting commonalities or anomalies in the reports. Both agents sustained multiple contusions before death. Both died of asphyxiation before being thrown into the river. Both were found near the same place on the river, but probably were not killed there—they most likely floated downriver.

As Brianna works, she can feel Esmerelda’s eyes on the back of her head. She turns around and finds the records clerk staring at her. She asks Brianna, “Are you finished?”

“No, not yet,” Brianna says, surprised at the question. She goes back to looking at the files.

As evidenced by the pattern of bruise marks, the asphyxiation was probably caused by a large pair of hands closing around the victims’ throats. The bodies had bruised and scraped knuckles, indicating that they did not go down without a struggle.

Brianna sticks her notes in her pocket and hands the reports back to Esmerelda. “Had they worked here long?” Brianna asks her.

“John was a veteran,” Esmerelda says. Brianna remembers from the report that he was in his 50s.

“Julie, I wouldn’t call a rookie, but she wasn’t seasoned yet,” Esmerelda continues.

“Did they ever come to records, asking about similar research?” Brianna asks.

“I’m not at liberty to say,” Esmerelda replies primly.

“I understand. Thank you for the reports.”

Brianna heads to her desk and pulls up the maps of the Willamette. Looking at maps of the river currents, the locations of where the bodies washed up, and the times of death, she tries to pinpoint where the bodies entered the water. Unfortunately, the calculations seem to be beyond her.

Brianna decides to take a taxi to the waterfront area where the bodies were found. She gets out at a pier leading up to a warehouse. The bodies were found washed up against the posts of the pier. Not much of the riverbank is walkable in this area—thus the pier. The water is moving along at a pretty good rate.

Brianna gets on the phone and calls Roy Dale to see if he can do the calculations to figure out where the bodies mostly likely entered the river. He says that he will work on the “word problem”. They work out a price and he hangs up.

She gets another taxi and heads back to the office. By this time it is close to 5:00 pm and many people are heading out of the building, calling it a day. During the exodus, Rupert stops by her desk.

“So, how was your first day?” he asks.

“Met with various people. Got some records from the records room, which was nice. Something to start with, anyway,” Brianna says. She looks around surreptitiously and lowers her voice, “I was able to get the autopsy reports.”

“Um-hmm,” Rupert says, nodding.

“It looked like something strong killed them,” Brianna says quietly. “I’ll be poking around the waterfront, I think.”

“Okay.”

“Does this place mostly shut down at night?” Brianna asks.

“For the most part,” Rupert replies.

“Well, until I get more concrete information, I don’t think I need to be pulling all-nighters at this point,” Brianna says, gathering her things. She and Rupert leave the building together and she calls a cab.

“I guess I’ll see you tomorrow, then.”

“Very well,” Rupert says.

“Okay,” she nods and gets in the cab to head home.

Once home, she chats briefly with Joey and then the two of them get ready to head out to the fights. Joey has a bout that night and Brianna needs to feed.

The bout is a pretty mean little scrap, but Joey comes out on top. Brianna feeds on the rage of the audience and then they come back home. Brianna doesn’t talk about her new job.

September 27, 2013 (Friday)

Brianna heads to the office. She joins everyone else as they come into the office, clock in, head to their desk, and start to work.

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