Dresden Files: Twin Cities

Conflict Mediation, Defenestration and You

Changing Faces, Part 2


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The Story

Subbasement, IDS Tower, Minneapolis

Thomas no longer wonders what it feels like when he punches someone in the face. His double strikes him hard, knocking Thomas off his feet as he….she…it runs by. His massive size slams into the door frame, causing it to fracture and then the structure to collapse. The stairwell is now sealed off with the shapeshifter on the other side, leaving Rosalie and he trapped with members of the Broadway Shotgun Boys and enough C4 to turn the IDS Tower into a crater.

IDS Tower

Rosalie had wasted little time, she easily scrambles over the makeshift machinegun nest the gang members had constructed. Moving with a grace and speed that only those trained in the South American martial art of capoeira and striking blows infused with the strength of a Red Court Vampire; she quickly begins to overwhelm the well armed thugs. Bullets rip around her as she flips and turns, some of the Boys attempt to turn the mounted machinegun around to bring it to bear on Rosalie.

Thomas, seeing that pursuit against the shapeshifter is not readily available, turns and charges the machinegun nest. He rips it from its mounting and swings it violently. The Living Iron sings in his veins as he rips through the remaining gang members, hurling violently from their construction project. The last two throw down their weapons and dive down a hole that was drilled into the floor, one takes a moment to throw a timed grenade behind him.

Rosalie dives behind some of the rubble left behind from the construction to take shelter from the explosion. Thomas calls upon the Living Iron and pulls pieces of metal from the room about him and the rebar imbedded in the concrete. He makes a dome of iron and slams it atop the gernade. There is a rumble as the dome reverberates from the explosion contained within. After a couple of seconds of silence, where the only sounds falling dust plinking off of Thomas’s armor, they both stand quietly up.

Thomas surveys the explosives and notes the C4 has been drilled into the concrete pillars, all of which have been interconnected by yellow cables of “det cord.” A piece of concrete tumbles off of one of the pillars and Thomas realizes that his calling upon the Living Iron to make the dome has probably damaged the integrity of the building. He decides to get a closer look at one of the explosives and gingerly pulls it out of one the holes drilled in the wall. He is able to get it out and disconnected it from its case casing, unfortunately in doing so Thomas sees the rest of the explosives suddenly light up and LED screens flashes a timer, counting down from 30 minutes. He glances at Rosalie and they both jump down the drilled out concrete tunnel to chase the remaining Broadway Shotgun Boys.

Upper levels, IDS Tower, Minneapolis

Three things happened at once. The large glass window leading to the exterior of the building shatters, because a large group of men in black tactical gear, armed to their pointy teeth, swing in on rappelling lines into the meeting room with murderous intent. The second is that all three elevator doors leading to the meeting room slide open simultaneously disgorging more heavily armed thugs, but even more worrisome, Susana, Carlos Ortega’s protégé and right hand vampire, also steps into the ballroom and she looks….hungry. Then, escaping everyone’s notice but Brittany’s, Peter Capra snags the wooden box that Craig identified as possibly holding the Generosity of a Dragon. He then ducks out through a side door; luckily Brittany also notices a man with horned rimmed glasses and wearing a waiter’s uniform also slipping after Peter.

Susana

The ramifications of all these actions come quickly to home as heavy caliber machineguns are being cocked and aimed at the party in the center of the meeting room. The heavily armed thugs part allowing Susana to the forefront, who is smiling with evil delight.

“Really, Susana, you plan to involve me in all of this?” An exasperated Baldur calls out, “you and Carlos are not ready for that.”

Susana makes a delightful little laugh (arguably delightful coming from the throat of a murderous Red Court Vampire), “Oh no, I am here on other matters, but don’t worry we will make time for you shortly.”

“Well then, I suppose my date and I should just get out of your way too,” Steve straightens himself, sighing at the damage done to his suit.

“Oh no, no, no.” Susana holds up a finger as if she is scolding a naughty child, “you should choose your dates more wisely.” She gestures to the other gun men, “Kill them.”

The gunmen features change, revealing their vampiric origin. Susana demonstrates her mastery of evocation and channels her killing rage to the ceiling above the ball room, warping the support struts. She brings the heavy ceiling crumbling down atop the bewildered party goers. Bethany takes a deep breath, looking intently at Craig. She knows that she does not want to lose him, not now. She draws on her desperation and exhales blowing out a strong gust of wind upwards. She focuses her energy, she know she will be a wizard some day and she will prove it tonight. The shield of wind extends over the ballroom, blasting the debris away and shielding the others from harm. Susana snarls in frustration and Bethany falls to her knees next to Craig, winded.

Brittany and Ripley charge towards Susana and the vampire strike team with her. Steve’s countenance takes on a chiseled, marble appearance. Attraction and lust radiate from him, threatening to burn those around him. He glares at the Red Court Vampires who dared to strike against him. His passion causes some of them to give into their blood lust and fall amongst themselves tearing and feeding. Ripley darts into the chaos and hamstrings Susana, throwing her off balance. Brittany pulls the ghost axe from the ether and slams it into Susana’s gut, the busty debutante grunting as the blade bites deep. Craig draws deep into the well of his energy, tapping into the deep veins of spirit that connects everything. He then wraps it tightly around Susana. He draws upon the mantle of being a Warden of the White Council and closes his fist about the vampire. Blood pours from her mouth and stomach wound and Susana snarls in pain. Craig’s knees shake as the mental energy leaves him drained. Susana’s eyes burn with rage. She grabs one of the vampires next to her and casually rips his head off. She greedily gulps down the blood pouring from his neck, restoring her health and vitality.

The vampire strike force from the window open fire. Bethany is caught surprised and flat footed, but Craig dives knocking her to the ground, bullets shredding through his Warden Cloak. Steve moves with snake like speed and twists between the streams of gunfire. Brittany finds herself surrounded by hostile vampires and struggles, their fists and claws pummeling and tearing at her. In the silence that follows the sudden gunfire, Baldur takes a seat and turns towards Craig and Bethany, “You’re valor and bravery have been noted and however this night turns, take heart, for the bards will remember your deeds.”

At Baldur’s words, they do not feel as drained of mental energy. Bethany leans against Craig, drawing strength from him. She focuses this new found energy and curls the gusting wind from the shattered window about the vampire’s assailing Brittany. The blast hurls two of them out the window. Ripley harries Susana’s heels and Brittany, her ghost axe still embedded in Susana’s stomach, grips the shaft of the axe tightly. Like a coiled spring, Brittany twists and then hurls Susana, axe and vampire, across the boardroom, over the other vampires, and out into the night air. Susana lets out a vengeful howl as she suddenly plunges to the streets below.

Steve reaches into his coat pocket and then quickly snaps his wrist, a collapsible baton in his hand. He stride forward towards Brittany, his motion empowered by his rage. He bellows to the Red Court Vampires, “How dare you harm that which is MINE!”

Even in a killing rage, Steve is beautiful. He wields the baton with a possessive savagery, beating the remaining vampires around Brittany into a bloody pulp. The other strike team reloads, training their guns towards the room. There is a pause when a voice yells at them in Sumerian over the radios. The second strike team then, with supernatural strength and speed, leaps up through the large hole in the ceiling and darts deeper into the floors above.

Craig draws upon his arcane knowledge and is able to translate the words and informs everyone else, “They are moving on upstairs, for a bigger target. I think they are going after Pearce.”

Nobody pays attention. Steve wraps his arm around Brittany’s waist and pulls her in for a startled and savage kiss. Her eyes go wide as pushes at his shoulders. Bethany overcome with emotions and a sudden, strange passion also tackles Craig in a kiss. He bites back a groan as Bethany’s lips taste a little bit of Summer and can’t help but to think to himself, “Those Bastards!”

No one hears Ripley’s bark of warning as Susana, dark bat like wings out stretched from her back, glides level to the open window. She gathers her will and with a sudden howl, punches forward, causing the floor beneath everyone to shatter with a blast of evocation magic.

Foshay Tower, Minneapolis

Moss carefully picks his way around the three bloodied vampire corpses towards the second set of steel doors. He slips out his lap top and examines what looks to be a biometric hand scanner that acts as a lock.

Foshay Tower

“Why don’t we just use one of their hands,” Hunter picks up one of the dead vampire’s hand and waves it towards Moss.

Colin reloads his gun and checks his ammunition, “Because crime lords are paranoid bastards and probably wouldn’t let just anyone access their vault.”

Hunter grunts and lets the arm fall to the ground. Moss has already unscrewed the face plate and has connected his computer to the security system. Upon prompting he types a few keys.

“Once again, Peter’s password works,” Moss says aloud and he begins to access the security protocols. He quickly realizes that the door will be easy to open, but he also notices that someone put a backdoor into the security system. It doesn’t take him long to figure out who and to access their servers.

Monoc Securities, let’s see why you were poking around in here.

Moss scrolls through and notices some odd surveillance files, some accessed fairly recently. He plays one of the video clips and sees the grainy footage of a tied up Katrinka Hunter being beaten by another man, Jack Hunter. He glances over his shoulder quickly and notes that the time stamp shows this happening only two days ago. Moss copies the file and backs out of the system. He recognizes where the recording took place, the Abandoned Hamm’s Brewery over in St. Paul.

I hate shapeshifters, everything gets all twisty when they’re around.

Moss triggers the door and Hunter steps forward, shifting into his hawk form. He darts down a hallway that has a less modern aesthetic and then up a stairwell. He flies into a long wide room littered with alcoves. Each alcove has a silvery, ornate gate in front of it with some ancient looking artifact or artwork stored behind. In the center of the room he notices a large suit of armor, burnished and made of sharp edges. The plaque reads Carlos Ortega, 1452. The room itself has a complex and handcrafted crowning with elaborate runes.

At the end of the vault room there is a simple desk with a leather chair positioned next to an alcove with a locked leather book behind one of the gates.

That must be the ledger!

Hunter flies back, on the way, he can see a spot on the wall in the vault where he can see some cracks coming through.

They are almost through the wall, we don’t have a lot of time.

He rejoins Moss and Colin, transforming back to human form and informs them of what he saw. They make quick time back to the vault room and across the floor towards the alcove that Hunter mentioned. Moss smiles to himself as he glances at the lock and slips out some old fashion lock picks. Colin trains is light automatic rifle on the spot where the drill is going to break through. Hunter transforms back into a hawk and takes watch for any other disturbances.

Demon Armor

Moss begins to work his “magic” when real magic interrupts his locking picking attempt. The silvery gate flashes with light, the crown encircling the room does likewise. In moments, the giant suit of armor turns around. Red eyes, framed in sulfurous smoke, peer out from inside the slit of the helmet. “Thieves! You will be punished!” The demonic creature roars.

Hunter descends on the armored knight with a screech that stretches into a howl, he shifts from hawk to wolf and slams into the suit of armor. His claws rake at its sides, rending the steel plating. Colin follows up and peppers the suit with bullets, neat holes forming where the rounds punch through. Sulfur pours from the wounds and the edges glow red and then close, leaving no trace of injuries. The demon grabs Hunter by the side and smashes him violently into the floor, the wolf whimpers in pain.

Moss glances around and sees that there is an old fashion sprinkler system in the vault. With a quick study of the plumbing he runs to a section of wall and removes a panel. Using his lock picking tools he begins to quickly work on the pump in an attempt to trigger it. Hunter dashes between the armor suit’s legs distracting it from Moss and Colin. Colin drops his light assault rifle in disgust and reaches into his trench coat. He pulls out a smaller gun with a large barrel and loads a single massive shell. He takes careful aim at the demon and fires. The large shell rips through the ancient suit of armor and buries itself inside the demon. The beast lets out a roar, as the bullet hole begins to close. Then suddenly the suit explodes, blasting bits of demon and shards of metal everywhere.

Moss lets out a small yell when a piece of sharp metal stabs into the wall next to him. As quickly as the demon was blown to pieces, pieces begin flow back to the center as if drawn by an unknown force. The armor and demon flesh burn with a white fire and begin to sear as they touch, reassembling themselves. Moss manages to trigger the fire system and water pours from the ceiling. The burning demon sizzles as smoke rises from the smoldering pieces of its body. The metal and flesh try to pull itself together, but the water prevents it from searing and healing.

Moss quickly finishes picking the lock to alcove and snatches the leather bound book. The drill punches through the vault wall and retracts, pulling parts of the drywall with it. Moss sprints back to the hallway with Hunter close behind. Colin snaps up his light machinegun and leaves it trained on the opening, ready to gun down whoever comes through next. The three quickly make their way back down the steps, the feet splashing in the water cascading down the stairs.

Hunter and Colin are watching for pursuit behind them, so only Moss is able to move out of the way when they cross paths with Michael Abernathy and some of the Broadway Shotgun Boys. They open fire on the would be thieves, with Moss jumping up in the air and propping himself by the ceiling to avoid the gunfire. Colin and Hunter call out in pain and shock as bullets pepper the air around them. Colin quickly wheels his machinegun around and mows down the Boys, but missing Michael. Hunter surges forward snapping his jaws at Michael who ducks around the corner.

The sounds of splashing feet come from the vault room as more figures begin to charge towards the hallway. Colin takes cover in the stairwell they came up previously and fires shots towards the vault, stalling pursuit. Hunter continues to snap his jaws at Michael who slides across the wet floor, dodging his sharp teeth. He calls out to Moss, “I’ve heard of you, I can’t believe you are helping this freak of nature hear and Capra man. Just give me the ledger and you can walk out of this.”

Moss takes a deep breath, still pressed against the ceiling, “Mate, I agreed to do a job and I am a man of my word.” He then slips his stun gun out of his pocket, turns it on and drops it into the ankle deep water below.

Screams echo up and down the hallway. Colin staggers back down towards the stairs surprised by the electric current. Hunter and Michael find a dry part of the hallway that they both jump too, avoiding the dangerous charge. Michael fires a round at the shapeshifted wolf, a bullet catching his shoulder causing Hunter to howl in pain. Moss smiles as he reaches into his bag and reaching for his second trick for the night.

He pulls out the C4 from the vent earlier and disrupts the timer on it, causing it to rapidly start counting down. He then hurls it into the hallway, before swinging into the stairwell. Hunter and Michael are rocked by the explosion, with Michael diving further down the hallway. Hunter shifts into his hawk form and rolls with the explosive force, flying out an open window and into the night air.

The explosion rips a hole on the side of Foshay Tower. Moss winks at Colin and then dives out the hole in the wall and into the night air. Colin, figuring that he is being betrayed, opens fire on the fleeing form of Moss. As Moss sails through the night air, he can see the dance of fire and lights arcing between the IDS Tower and Foshay Tower. He thinks he can see a winged figure flying about the sides of the building. He twists through the air and hopes that Hunter is close by. He smiles to himself when he feels the talons dig into the fabric his coat and glide him towards the ground.

Colin lets off another shot and disappears from the opening, Moss dusts himself off as Hunter shifts back to human form. “Well that went well, let’s get out here, I think I saw the getaway vehicle.”

Hunter grunts and follows Moss who leads him to an alleyway by the IDS Tower. There they find Bobby Chan’s RV still running. Moss grins, “It looks like we are going to add vehicle theft to my list of illicit activities tonight.”

Hunter barks a laugh as they both get into the RV and slips into the driver’s seat. He pulls slowly out and Moss easily picks the lock on the leather bound book. Carlos Ortega’s voice rumbles into the air, full of fury and threats, “To the thieves who dared violate the sanctity of my vault, I will find you and rend your souls.”

Moss chuckles and quickly flips through the book, finding the account in question. “Hunter, it looks like the account belonged to the estate of Thomas Archibald Brown, everyone’s favorite ghost.”

They both know about the notorious corrupt cop and they both know that his ghost is rumored to be by the Abandoned Brewery. Hunter checks the rear view mirror, “It looks like we are heading to Saint Paul.”

The Sewers Beneath the IDS Building, IDS Building, Minneapolis

Thomas and Rosalie trudge their through the sewers. They have long since lost track of the two Boys that they followed down into the tunnels. Thomas notices recent construction where it appears walls have been knocked down between sewer and utility tunnels for ease of travel. He comes to a constructed intersection with “det cord” leading off in three different directions.

He turns to Rosalie, “Huh, it runs back towards the IDS Tower, it looks like another branches off towards the Foshay Building and the third goes towards the Police Armory.”

Rosalie sighs and brushes sludge off her shoulders, “So which way do we go?”

Thomas sighs and looks down the three tunnels, he knows Craig and Brittney are back at the IDS Tower, “Back the way we came, we have to warn the others about the explosives.”

They quickly wade back to the subbasement and find a service stairwell leading back up into the building. Rosalie and Thomas make good time up the stairwell and are able to locate an intercom system. Rosalie checks the directory for the upper meeting rooms and Thomas begins to dial. It doesn’t take him long to get an answer.

“Uh, Hello, Steve here.”

Thomas recognizes Steve McCellan’s voice and knows that Brittany was with him, “So, can you put Brittany on the phone?”

Thomas can almost feel Steve’s smile over the phone, “No, she is….unavailable”

Thomas ponders for a moment, “How about Craig…..or Bethany?”

“Nope, neither one is available.”

Thomas thinks for a moment and then barely hears an indignant gasp from Bethany on the other end of the line, “I am too available Steve! God you’re such a creep!”

Steve starts chuckling over the phone, “it appears Bethany has just woken up, we have had a rough evening.” Thomas can hear the phone being passed and Steve’s voice becomes muffled, “it’s Thomas.”

“Thomas, oh my god, Brittany and Craig are out cold. We got ambushed by Red Court Vampires and Susana! We fought them off, but they collapsed the floor. Windsor and Ortega are now hurling spells at each other from atop the tower. I don’t know what to do and only this creep Steve and the dog are awake….well it looks like Brittany is stirring.”

Thomas takes that all in and shrugs, there isn’t much he can do about that now, “Well, there is another problem, someone laid C4 all over the foundation of the building and we have around 15 minutes left before it explodes.

Bethany lets out a soft sigh and then Thomas can hear the phone being passed to another person. Brittany’s sure and confidant voice comes through the crackling speaker, “Thomas, thanks for the warning, the Generosity of a Dragon, the thing for the wards,” she pauses for a moment, “well, it was taken by Peter Capra and he ran down a service stairwell. Also, our friend with the glasses, he is dressed like a waiter and went after him.”

Thomas thinks about the layout of the building and feels there is a good chance he is on the same service stairwell, “Brittany, I’ll stop him. Stay alive.” He then hangs up the phone and turns towards Rosalie, “we have to go up and stop some mobster named Peter, he has something that can do damage to the city.”

Rosalie nods and follows Thomas up the stairwell. They start passing corpses of Red Court Vampires with neat little bullet holes in their stomachs and head. They both hear the sound of continued gunfire and watch another vampire drop suddenly dead onto the stairwell. Thomas calls on the Living Iron and reinforces his sword, Rosalie takes a more defensive posture and charges with Thomas out of the stairwell and into the adjoining room.

Alice LaRue reloads her pistols and takes aim, firing off more rounds at Susana. He flesh mask hangs raggedly from her body with her large bat wings flexing behind her. Towards the side of the room a heavy table is on its side and it appears that Peter has taken cover behind it. Thomas and Rosalie sees that it appears Peter acquired one of the Red Court Vampire’s machine guns and has a large bulge in a pocket of his suit coat. Thomas strides in next to Alice, “Don’t worry, we are here to help.”

Alice LaRue

Alice nods and opens fire on Susana, continue to pepper her with bullets. Rosalie charges forward ducking beneath an enraged swipe of Susana’s clawed hand and punches her rapidly in the side. Thomas, on the other hand, transforms his blade into an axe and hurls it at Peter, smashing the table in half. Peter manages to dart out of the way of the whirling axe as it smashes a hole through the wall.

Susana snarls, shrugging off the blows. She focuses the power of earth and creates a magnetic field around Thomas, lifting him into the air and then hurling him at Alice. Thomas twists around preventing the hit from being clean, but still knocks Alice off her feet. Thomas shakes his head and tries to stand. Brittany suddenly darts into the room and vaults the table with a speed and grace that is normally beyond her. She snags Peter’s coat and rips it from his body, clutching it tightly with her hands.

Thomas knows Brittany can’t move that fast and narrows his eyes, “Rosalie, that’s the shapeshifter, get the coat it has the thing we want.”

Rosalie darts beneath a wide swipe by Susana, some well-placed shots from Alice knocking the vampire off balance slightly. She vaults the table and snags the coat in her hand, ripping it, but getting the half with the box. Peter makes a little sarcastic smile and leaps out a small door, pulling a little remote from his pocket. As he jumps he presses a button and his suit coat explodes.

Brittany suddenly takes the form of Thomas and turns herself into a giant iron statue to ward off the explosion. Alice rolls nimbly into the stairwell, avoiding the brunt of the blast. Rosalie hurls the explosive she is hold at Susana, the blast ripping through the vampire, shredding her flesh. Thomas hardens his skin with liquid iron and dives knocking Rosalie into the room that Peter leapt into.

Thomas leaps to his feet, ready to chase Peter only to find him sitting on the floor unconscious with a little dart in his neck. The man in the horned rimmed glasses is kneeling beside him, wearing a waiter uniform, and taking ahold of the little wooden box. He looks up at Thomas, “You need to help me keep this out of Ortega’s and the shifter’s hands, it will mean the end of everything we love if we don’t."

In a Collapsed Room Beneath the Meeting Floor, IDS Tower, Minneapolis

Craig opens his aching eyes and finds himself looking directly into Bethany’s concerned gaze. They both quickly look away to avoid an accidental soul gaze. He can see a hole in the ceiling with rubble strewn about him. Standing on the floor above is Baldur leaning over with a bemused and concern look on his face, his arm around an unsteady Madison. His head aches as he hears Brittany arguing with Steve. Bethany tells him about the explosives and Peter stealing the box.

Craig sits up with a wince and interrupts the arguement, “I have to get to the subbasement. I can hex the explosions and possibly keep the building from collapsing, Bethany I need…”

Bethany cuts Craig off before he can finish and grips his arm tightly, “Oh no, I am not letting you out of my sight, I’m coming with you.”

Craig grimaces and nods quietly. A shockwave rocks the building as the deadly duel of magic continues between Pearce and Ortega. Brittany lets out a sigh, “I’m going to the roof, letting Ortega win this is probably not going to be good for any of us, especially if they blow up the building in the process.”

Steve chuckles, “You definitely are making this an interesting night. You won’t be going alone.” Steve makes his away beside Brittany.

Ripley looks from Brittany to Craig and for reasons that only the wolfhound knows she pads over to Bethany and Craig wagging her tail.

Brittany’s voice hardens, “Let’s move.”

To be continued…

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