Dresden Files: Twin Cities

Left in the Dark

Changing Faces, Conclusion


    Terrorists Blacken Minneapolis    Police Armory Robbed    Prominent Financier Murdered During Terrorist Attack – Minnesota Public Radio News    

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The Story

IDS Tower, Minneapolis

Thomas pauses for a moment as HRG stands over the unconscious Peter Capra, the secretive man begins to secure Pearce’s wooden box.

IDS Tower

“Thomas, I’m glad you’re here,” HRG glances briefly at Rosalie, “we can’t let the Generosity of a Dragon fall into the wrong hands. I can take it, put it into hiding if you can buy me some time.”

HRG

Thomas cracks his neck and nods, when a loud crash interrupts his response. Susana, her flesh mask hanging in tatters about her fleshy bat, demonic form, screams with rage and tackles LaRue. She locks her talons about the Norse woman’s shoulders and flies towards the elevator. The two slam through the door and the wall behind it. They disappear into the open air and out of the building.

The distraction gives the mysterious shapeshifter the opening it needs, still wearing the Thomas suit it channels the living iron and hurls itself at HRG. A meaty hand snatches the wooden box from HRG’s grasp, and the Fake Thomas slams his other fist into HRG’s gut, hurling him down a hallway. Thomas turns with a hostile glare towards his double.

On the other side of the meeting room, an elevator comes to a stop because of the damage done to the shaft by the exiting Susana and LaRue, with a flustered Craig, Ripley and Bethany stepping out. The fake Thomas calls out, “There’s a shape changer here trying to get the Generosity of a Dragon and it looks like me, kill the fake one.”

Thomas glowers and grapples with the Fake Thomas, trying to rip the box from its hands. Rosalie yells out, “The one with the box is the fake one.””

Rosalie

Craig confusedly calls out, “Thomas throw me the box.”

The Fake Thomas growls, “It’s too risky,” and pushes Thomas back with surprising strength.
Bethany’s eyes widen and she whispers to Craig, “The Thomas, the one with the box, he’s stronger than he normally is.”

Craig nods and steels himself, opening his third eye. Craig sees Everything. His eyes are first drawn towards Bethany; her figure the familiar glass silhouette, encasing a tumultuous thunderstorm. Hovering about her Craig sees an image of himself and Bethany…”passionately entwined” with puppet strings leading up to the grinning figure of Puck.

God damned fairies, Puck must have charmed Bethany.

He Notices Ripley next to Bethany, a gigantic, wild wolfhound made of branches, leaves and weaving tendrils. He can see a thin leash about her neck leading off to the distance and he gets the vague sense that it’s Blackthorn on the other end. Out of the corner of his eye, he Notices Rosalie, he can see her frantically grappling with the demon that creates Red Court Vampires. He also can’t help to notice Thomas, a man out of time, red hot iron coursing through his veins. He is surprised as it looks like he can see Blackthorn’s finger prints all up and down Thomas.

Craig’s Sight continues to get drawn to the other Thomas and he sees a mirror image of the first Thomas; yet he gets the vague sense that it is a shroud, hiding something else beneath it. He can make out a long chord of misery, pain, of a dark almost Native American energy. Beneath the shroud he catches the scent of something dark and decaying; an undead rot that is hiding away. What really draws Craig’s Sight is what is in the fake Thomas’s hands, the simple wooden box. He sees instead, nothing, then a burst of pure golden light, it transforms into a golden egg. It then cracks open, birthing a small golden dragon. The dragon rapidly grows ages, engulfs the room, the building, the city, the world and then beyond. Craig feels its life burning through the depths of his soul and then experiences a soul crushing emptiness as it vanishes, turning back into nothing. The nothingness is filled with a golden light, leaving behind an egg. It then cracks open, birthing a small dragon.

My god, Chrysophylax gave up the ability to have children for Gleipnir. That is what I am seeing.

Craig can’t tear his eyes away as the dragon rapidly grows, ages, engulfs he room, the building…

I have to look away, it burns.

Craig can feel his mind cracking, overwhelmed by what he is seeing, but what he now knows and must always remember. With a scream he tears himself away, drawing upon his training and experience. He falls to his knees in anguish, closing his Sight. Ripley, experiences no indecision, she has a mission to fulfill. As Craig experiences his revelations, Ripley charges across the floor and leaps into the air. Her jaws snap and she snags the wooden box from the Fake Thomas’s grasps. She twists away from the shifter’s grasps and lands delicately on the floor.

Abandoned Hamm’s Brewery and Mansion, St. Paul

Hunter and Moss pull up in Bobby’s old RV in the dead of night. The sounds of gunfire and sirens left behind them at the Police Armory. To both of their trained eyes, the two realized that the buildings were not as abandoned as they appeared. One of the main buildings showed signs of considerable traffic going back and forth from the road.

Hamm’s

Hunter takes the air in the form of a hawk and Moss skulks in the shadows towards the abandoned warehouse. They could see that the windows and entryways were boarded up and the only entrance into the building had two security guards stationed by the door. Hunter flies closer to get a better view of the guards. One holds a billy club limply and stares blankly into the night. The other has a loaded gun that he cocks and uncocks, gazing stupidly down the barrel on occasion. Hunter circles back around.

Their minds are destroyed vacant, like their sense of self was scooped out and someone else’s will was placed in. They might as well be dead.

The hawk screeches and dives down; Hunter shifts into the form of a gigantic wolf and slams into the guard with the gun. He lands with a sickening crunch. The other guard twists around and swings the club at Hunter. He catches the metal awning above him with a loud clang. Hunter makes a wolfish grin and leaps for the throat, snapping the second guard’s neck.

Moss had begun moving when he heard the screech. He found a crack in one of the board windows and it was enough for him to leverage himself into the building. He finds himself in a dimly lit hallway, dusty footprints showing passage towards a rusted, old door. Moss carefully walks down the hallway, scanning the doorway; his ears straining for sounds. He doesn’t like the feel of the place. The doorway looks safe and Moss turns the handle opening up the door to the main floor.

Moss

Hunter cleans the blood from his lips with a lazy lick and shifts back into human form. He enters the building and quickly catches up to Moss, standing there with his mouth agape. Hunter follows his gaze into the room. He sees that the floor is littered with human remains and bones, casually tossed about like one would a McDonald’s food wrapper. In the center of the room is a Native American woman with a hood over her face. Hunter’s heart stops, he knows who it is and he knows what this means, his search is almost at an end. He sees that she has a bone collar about her neck with a bone chain linked to a large structure made of human remains. It is decorated with macabre wind chimes tinkling with the wind.

Moss’s mouth is dry when he whispers to Hunter, “What is that thing?”

“Watch the wind chimes, they move with the captive’s suffered whimpers,” Hunter starts to walk forward, “It’s used to steal a Naagloshii’s power. It’s powered by the suffering of a shaman. That’s why this bastard took Kat. Moss get that hood off her. I have to destroy this thing.”

Kat

Moss wastes little time running towards Kat. Hunter grasps the bone links from the chain and grunts. He draws upon the power of a wolf and tears the bones apart. His heart pumps with a wild energy. Moss rips the hood off and breathes a sigh of relief, seeing the tortured visage of Kat beneath it.

“It’ll be ok, we’re here to rescue you,” Moss pulls the soiled gag from Kat’s lips.

Her eyes go wide with fear at the sight of Hunter, “no, no, no, Moss you don’t understand. Jack is dead. He was killed by that thing!” She looks at Hunter with hatred and terror, “It’s a Naagloshii, a shifter, and this thing took its power and kept it locked as Jack.”

Hunter clenches his fists, his knuckles going white as he lets out a bone chilling laughter, “Yes, Yes, Yes, It’s all back.” He turns toward Kat and the confused Moss, “I was free to feed, to hunt until some upstart Black Court Vampire made this and kidnapped Kat. I just wanted to kill her for her power, he used it to steal mine. I was stuck in the shape of the last person I drained, Hunter. Now, now I am free.”

Hunter hunches his shoulders and stalks towards Kat and Moss, a murderous glee dancing in his eyes.

Top of the IDS Tower, Minneapolis

Brittany and Steven climb up the wreckage left behind from Susana’s attack and pull themselves to the roof, only to step into pandemonium. Waves of fire and lightening dance deadly arcs between the IDS Tower and the Foshay Building. The shadow of a massive dragon hunches protectively over the roof of the IDS Building, as the sky fills with dark clouds mirroring the murderous intent of the magic being thrown about.

Pearce

Brittany can see Windsor atop a helicopter platform in the middle of a ritual circle craved about him. Waves of energy ripple from Pearce, some going towards the Foshay building and other waves going at clusters of vampires in black tactical gear attempting to assault his position. Through the wind and the rain, Brittany can make out a figure shadowed in dark power directing energy towards the top of the building.

Steve yells to Brittany, “We can’t let the vampires disrupt the ritual, it would definitely kill Windsor and leave us vulnerable to Ortega.”

Ortega

Brittany had already come to that conclusion and summons her ghost axe. She runs at the first crowd of vampires, leaping over blasts of energy being hurled by Carlos and Pearce. She whips her axe violently around her, cutting a swath through the crowd of vampires. Steve calls upon the demon that drives his hunger and lets energy ripple around him. He drives the vampires to a feeding frenzy and they rip into each other apart.

Pearce and Ortega continue their deadly magical duel, their rage and hatred bleeding into the air about them. The shadowy dragon perched atop the building lets out a roar as Brittany and Steve finish off the last of the vampires. Before either can react, a furious and bloody Susana glides up from below the roof top, her wings outstretched. She channels her earth magic and causes the rooftop to buckle. Brittany and Steve dive out of the way of girders that stab up from the roof. Pearce’s platform is not so lucky. A beam tears at one of the helicopter pad’s supports, bending it. The platform lurches and threatens to break. Pearce stabs a sword into the ground to maintain his balance and continues to focus his assault.

Susana

Steve dashes across the floor, slamming his shoulder against the pillar and pushes the platform back to level. Brittany runs the other direction and leaps into the air, her ghost axe high above her head. She buries it into Susana’s back, causing the vampires to lurch and flail. She hisses, and runs her tongue along the Brittany’s exposed neck and face. Brittany steals her mind and knows that she is the Slayer and is immune to such trickery. Steve grabs a steel rod and slams it into the pillar, stabilizing the platform. Brittany twists her axe, buried in Susana’s back, and drives the vampires across the gap between the two buildings. Susana loses control and the two slam into the rooftop of the Foshay building, kicking up dust and tiles at their impact.

Inside the IDS Tower, Minneapolis

The fake Thomas suddenly lurches back and vanishes, leaving behind a dry husk of a corpse. It lurches upright, its eyes burning intensely. Craig yells out, “Watch its eyes, it’s a Black Court Vampire.”

Thomas attempts to avert his gaze, but the vampire focuses upon the scion of living iron. His gaze and will boring a hole into Thomas’s mind. Ripley snorts at the disgusting smell of the vampire. She focuses her mind on Blackthorn’s name and the sigil she gave him. She remembers his instructions and knows he will come when he is summoned.

Thomas tried to pull away from the vampire, but the creature continues its mind melting leer. The elevator doors open up next to Craig and Bethany. Blackthorn, cane in hand, steps out with a small smile. Ripley hurls the box towards Blackthorn, only to have a potted plant from the desk suddenly spasm and grow to monstrous size, snagging the wooden box from the air.

Blackthorn

Craig senses the presence of Puck. He focuses his will upon the moisture about him and lowers the temperature of the air. Craig then fills room with a thick fog, blocking everyone sight. Craig whispers to Bethany, “This should keep the vampire from mentally attacking Thomas,” he then yells out, “I have to get to the basement and keep the building from blowing up!”

And maybe Puck can get out of here with the box and my obligation is lifted, plus he will stop messing with Beth.

Silence and scuffles fill the room, as people lose each other in the fog. Bethany stumbles across the room, with Rosalie helping her. Thomas gathers his wits and readies himself, lost in cool, damp air. Ripley focus her hearing and scent. She is not as blind as these humans. She can sense a scuffle between the two fairies and hears a clatter of wood. She dashes across the floor and snatches up the wood box with her jaws.

The fog dissipates as quickly as it came. Rosalie and Bethany begin to make their way down the service stairwell that the Red Court infected and Thomas had used earlier. Puck and Blackthorn glare at each other, Puck holding his bloody hand.

Puck

“I can’t let you play this game here, this is too important,” Blackthorns eyes take a wintery blue, mingled with a vibrant green.

Puck makes a mocking smirk, “The game is all that matters, and I know what you really are. You are far from noble.”

The Summer Sidhe draws two wooden knives from his coat and launches at Blackthorn. Blackthorn takes a classic duelist stance. His cane suddenly narrowing, becoming sharp at the edge. He catches Puck’s assault and the two begin a deadly dance. Craig, Ripley, and Thomas see that the two fae are distracted and dashed down the service stairwell after Bethany and Rosalie.

Roof of the Foshay Building, Minneapolis

Brittany and Susana pick themselves up from the ground, their eyes locked on each other. Ortega and Pearce continue their battle, deadly energies dancing between them. Brittany feels a different energy about Ortega. Where Pearce was fire and fury, Ortega is dark and burning. She can see that his ritual circle is stained in blood. Susana flexes her wings and takes the air, her eyes shifting towards Pearce.

Foshay Building

Brittany leaps again wrapping her arms around Susana’s wings preventing the Red Court vampire from flying forward. Steve grabs another steal rod and leaps across the gap between buildings landing up on the Fosahy Tower. Ortega has noticed their presence and a flair of dark energy lashes out at Brittany and Steve. Steve loses his footing in sudden pain as Brittany sucks in a breath of air. Susana digs her claws into the Slayer’s side, creating even more pain for her.

Steve feels a fury well up inside of him and hurls the steel rod at Susana. The bar pierces her shoulder, causing the vampire to scream in pain. Brittany grabs a wing with one of her hands and matches Susana’s scream with one of her one. She shreds the wing from the vampire’s body, causing her to start plummeting to the street below. Brittany pushes off from Susana and lands atop the building with a roll.

Ortega sends another blast of dark energy at Brittany and Steve. Steve falls to his knees in pain. Brittany grimaces and stands, clutching her ghost axe. She strides forward, ignoring the pain and terror of the dark energy emanating from about Ortega. With a single swing she brings the blade of the axe down upon his ritual circle, severing it. Ortega gasps, stumbling suddenly. He turns towards Brittany, his eyes red with a murderous rage.

Before he can bring his ire down upon the Slayer, the ghostly image of the dragon leans across the gap between the buildings with its jaws wide. It descends upon Ortega and snaps its mse, Brittany can feel the heat of the creature’s breath. She nearly stumbles as its teeth snap, cutting off a pained scream from the Red Court Duke. The dragon draws back, leaving behind only the stumps of Ortega’s bleeding feet.

Chrysophylax

Brittany falls to her knees as the Foshay Building begins to shudder from the suddenly released dark magic. Steve dashes and scoops her up, leaping back to the IDS tower. He sets her down on her feet, and whispers to her, “I know you promised me yourself tonight. I will not have you that way. When I do have you, it will be willingly. I release you.”

He grimaces and Brittany nods quietly, still catching her breath. The energy about the IDS Tower begins to dissipate and a furious Windsor Simon Pearce strides towards Brittany and Steve, his blade still clutched in his hand. “I apologize for this assault on my place. My principal investor and I will remember the aid you both have given to us and we will be sure to repay it in kind.” His eyes narrow, still glowing green with energy, the ghostly dragon clutches possessively at the top of the building, “I apologize I cannot speak longer, for I have a thief to deal with. She has taken something….precious from me.”

Subbasement IDS Tower, Minneapolis

Thomas falls behind the rest as his cellphone rings from an unknown number. He answers it and before he speaks, the familiar voice of a girl speaks, “Thomas, I can’t speak long. Do not trust Puck, he must not get the Generosity of a Dragon. It would be dire.” The girl then hangs up.

Thomas grunts and runs after the rest. Bethany, Craig, Ripley and Rosalie make their way into the sub-basement. Craig makes his way over towards the timer, seeing that is growing short. A radio by one of the dead Broadway Shotgun Boys crackles with life.

“Craig Hale, I know you and I know what you are," Michael Abernathy’s voice crackles over the radio, “Let this happen, I came to –“

The radio suddenly dies as Craig begins to channel energy, disregarding Michael’s words. Thomas clomps into the room, “Hale remember, there is more than one explosive, more are beneath the armory and in the Foshay Building.”

Craig nods and continues to focus his will, his fear, and his hope into his channeling. He doesn’t respond to the buildup of magical energy emanating from the walls of the sub-basement. Bethany recognizes it though and shouts out, “Thomas something is happening, I think, I think it’s the dragon.”

At those words, Ripley suddenly darts up the stairs with the box in her mouth. Right as she leaves the entrance seals, locking the rest inside. She continues up the stairwell and into the main lobby. She bounds towards the exit only to be greeted by a giant dragon eye glaring at her, “Hello little wolf, you have something of mine.”

Craig ignores the rising heat and extends his energy outwards. He expands his mystical senses to nearby buildings and then releases it. His control slips briefly, and he grunts with pain as it flairs around the city. The hexing disrupts the timers and diffuses the explosives, but the explosion acts as an EMP blast darkening a wide swath of Downtown Minneapolis.

As the lights blink out, Ripley sets the wooden box down on the ground and growls back, “Chrysophylax, I came to protect the box, Blackthorn asked me to get it.”

“Blackthorn,” the dragon snarls, “I will deal with him later. Your companion rendered me a great aid tonight. I shall ignore the fact you have broken guest right if you place the box on the ground and leave my domain.”

Ripley lets out a little whimper and bows submissively and leaves the box as she darts out the door. As she goes, she hears the dragon whisper, “I will have my eye upon you, thief.”

Craig sags against Bethany, the heat building up. Thomas starts to pound against the wall, when suddenly the room cools and the doorway opens. A booming voice suddenly echoes throughout the room, “Leave.”

With that, Bethany, Craig, Rosalie and Thomas, make their way back upstairs.

Sacred Grounds, St. Paul

Craig sits at Brittany’s newly re-opened Sacred Grounds reading the paper as the NPR news blares in the background.

Sacred Grounds

“The city mourns at the surprising death of financier, Carlos Ortega, during last week’s terrorist attack. Authorities continue to have no leads as to who attacked the armory making off with a large part of the arsenal. The EMP like blast still has the city in disarray as sections still struggle to regain consistent power. The damage to electronics –“

Brittany clicks off the radio as Craig gives an embarrassed grin. “So how hard did the White Council come down on you?” She asks while cleaning a glass.

Craig makes an embarrassed cough, but is saved from answering.

“Craig, I missed your call, the Red Court Vampires were chasing me all about the city,” a bemused Jack Hunter says as he strides across the coffee house floor, “I got your other message too. The World Chair thing, that sounds really important,” he claps Craig on the shoulder with a wolfish grin, “You can trust me Craig, I have your back.”

The Conclusion of Changing Faces

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