Chapter 12: Dreams Part 2
Thank you winter vacation for the time to finish up this chapter. It had thought to add one more scene with more dialogue to it, but I think its ok to let out as is. If I've missed typos or made more egregious errors please let me know in a private review. Thanks!
As usual, I own nothing and make no claim to the IP of either Anita Blake or BtVS.
Chapter 11 - Dreams - Part 2
Anita Blake ducked underneath the police tape that blocked off the intersection for 100 feet in every direction. There weren’t many cops, just a few squad cars and one unmarked car she recognized as Zerbrowski’s. The restaurant itself was in shambles – it was one of those restaurants on the ground floor of a multi storey building with big floor to ceiling windows around the perimeter, but someone had obviously smashed the windows.
As she neared she noticed that the windows were the least of the damage. The inside was completely ruined – every piece of furniture had been smashed and every piece of glass shattered. Long jagged slashes had been cut into the walls randomly. She saw Zerbrowski leaning against the cashier’s counter talking on his cell phone and she headed in his direction.
“I’m here. What’s the emergency?”
Zerbrowski nodded. “I’ll show you.” They walked over to a tarp covering a part of the floor. Zerbrowski lifted the tarp, leaving Anita to stare at a double circle inscribed with runes, carved into the wooden flooring.
Anita knew she had seen these symbols before, but where exactly escaped her. “I’ll need a picture of this.” Zerbrowski reached into the file he was holding under his arm and pulled a glossy 8.5”x11”. “Way ahead of you.”
Anita closed her eyes, concentrating her magical senses on the circle in front of her. Frowning, she rubbed some of the tiredness out of her eyes and tried again. “Nothing. This thing is magically inert. I don’t recognize the ruins offhand but I’ve seen them before. The circle itself hasn’t been used. What’s the story, exactly?”
“We got a call from the owner half an hour ago. Alarm went off when the windows and doors where smashed. The restaurant closed at midnight, so no one had been here for hours. The owner has a good security system – come check this out.”
Zerbrowski took her back through the kitchen, which was completely undisturbed, to a little office she assumed was the manager’s or owner’s. There was a small flat screen TV and the electronics she recognized as part of the camera system. Zerbrowski played with buttons for a minute, and the restaurant appeared on the screen, dark and completely undamaged. Anita could see both the front entrance and the cash register from the perspective on the TV.
“This is roughly an hour and a half ago. The action starts soon.” Zerbrowski pushed another button and Anita could see the timestamp in the bottom right corner start moving. The scene stayed still until very suddenly the window beside the door smashed inward, seemingly without cause. Immediately after that chairs and tables started moving, flying in random directions. Only seconds after the window was broken nearly every piece of furniture in view had been smashed, taking much of the surrounding restaurant with it.
“Rewind it. I want to see that again.”
“It’s not over yet, and its short.” The scene hadn’t changed. For a second Anita thought maybe it was over, but then something caught her eye. She saw something move in the reflections on the glass door.
“Zoom in on the door.” Zerbrowski paused the footage and fiddled with the controls, zooming in on the door.
The reflections in the door were dim. She couldn’t make out much detail, but there was something visible there, getting bigger. [i]Walking towards the door.[/i]
Whatever it was stayed still near the door for seconds, then turned around and the reflection shrunk as it got further from the glass.
“Is that reflection or whatever is causing it visible from any other camera?”
“No. None of the cameras saw whatever that was except this one. Now watch this.” Zerbrowski fiddled with the screen and it split into 9 different squares, each one a different camera. He pressed play again, and waited.
The restaurant exploded. There wasn’t really any other way to describe it. Everything that wasn’t bolted down, and some of the stuff that was flew into the air. Larger pieces of furniture were smashed, reduced to smaller pieces seemingly without cause. Anita noticed that in one of the cameras the circle she had looked at was instantly carved into the wood floor, along with the slashes in the walls. The windows that hadn’t been smashed by flying debris all crashed outwards in pieces simultaneously, along with the glass display cases and even some window frames. In one second the everything that had been intact was utterly destroyed, except the glass door itself.
“Wow. That’s...something. Have you gotten Tammy in here yet?” Tammy Kirkland was RPIT’s resident witch. Anita didn’t like her that much, but not for any particular reason
“She couldn’t make it within twenty feet of the place. She said there was some seriously disturbed dark magic here, told me to call you, and left as fast as she could.”
Anita frowned and stretched her senses again, still not picking up anything. “Whatever it is, I don’t feel it at all. That’s a clue on its own – something Tammy can sense but I can’t. I bet that means whoever’s responsible is a witch.”
“A witch that can turn themselves invisible?”
“I don’t think so. I don’t think anyone was here physically.”
“What about the reflection in the door?”
“Get your forensics guys to try and clean up the image and send it to me. I don’t think that was a reflection per se. I bet if you have your guys look at the door you’ll find the glass is different than the windows. Maybe it has silver in it? I’m not sure. Something allowed the door to reflect an image, and it seems to be the only piece of glass in the place that’s intact.”
“So a witch or a group of witches took the time to magically trash a restaurant without being here?”
“Talk to the owner. People don’t install security systems like these for nothing. Those are high definition cameras and its recording all the time, not just when it sees movement. I bet he has enemies.”
“I’ve already sent Arnet to go do that. We won’t hear back for a while.”
“I’ll take this picture of the circle to an expert I know. I know I’ve seen these runes before. But it’s going wait till I’ve slept.”
Zerbrowski yawned. “Good idea. We’re leaving a squad car here to make sure nobody loots the place, but the owner’s handyman can’t make it to board up the windows until morning.”
“Tell Katie I said hello.”
“Will do, Anita. Take care of yourself, and let me know when you get something on those runes.”
She was already walking away, but she threw him a backwards wave.
Buffy was watching daytime soaps. They were pretty terrible, but there was something sort of relaxing about watching the soaps and imagining that Spike was watching them too, back in Sunnydale. Maybe even in her house with Dawn. Spike loved bad daytime TV and Dawn picked up a lot of behaviour from Spike. Good and bad, she thought.
Someone had just been revealed as a previously deceased character, come back with plastic surgery. The show cut to commercials, which Buffy ignored. She was too lazy to even channel surf at this point, so she just zoned out until it came back on.
“...restaurant attack at the corner of Adelaide...” The words jumped out at her, and she focused on the screen. The camera panned across the destroyed restaurant, and Buffy’s heart sped up as she recognized it.
Twenty minutes later she was in a cab across the street from the now boarded up building. She told the cab driver to keep the meter running and stepped out, dodging cars as she made her way across the busy street.
The only unbroken glass was the door. She peered in and could see people sweeping and collecting larger pieces of debris from the ground. She knocked on the door, drawing their attention. One came over and without opening the door pointed at the “CLOSED” sign hanging on the door.
Buffy yelled through the glass. “I just want to ask a few questions.”
The man behind the door looked around, but seeing only the tiny blond woman he unlocked the door and opened it slightly.
“What happened here? Was someone hurt?”
“Just vandalism. Someone broke in last night and completely trashed the place. The owner says we’re going to be shut down for weeks for renovations.”
“So no one was hurt?”
“Na, the place was closed for hours before this happened.”
“Oh, thanks.” That wasn’t what she was expecting. Obviously the dream wasn’t exactly what happened here. So why did she have it? Why did she feel like she killed a vampire not fifteen feet from the spot where she stood? Buffy turned around as the man locked the door and resumed his sweeping.
Should she tell someone about the dream? If it was a big bad and some kind of wonky alternate dimension slayer dream, it could be important. But what if she really was responsible, somehow?
Buffy considered her choices as she sat in the back of the taxi as it made its way back the Circus.
Asher stood on the roof of a nameless warehouse building in one of St Louis’ commercial districts watching Annette and her minions as they wandered. Jean Claude had asked him to keep an eye on the visiting vampires. The Council had sent a formal request to Jean Claude not even a week before, telling him of a powerful magical amulet that been stolen from the Council, and had attached evidence of shipping manifests that pointed to St Louis as the most current probably location.
The Council had been very vague about what the amulet did and why it was important to recover, but Jean Claude had been forced to comply given the accompanying evidence. The Council claimed to not even know who had stolen the thing.
Asher watched as the vampires tried to detect the amulet. Each of the vampires held a small teardrop shaped gem on a gold chain. The vampires would raise the chain in the air, allowing the gems to dangle, all while standing in a circle. A human accompanying them, a witch according to the Council, would chant something, and the amulets would tug in a direction. The vampires would move some distance in that direction and repeat the process.
The entire thing seemed silly to him, but the Council was rarely silly. If they had the direction of the amulet, all they needed to do was pick very disparate points, measure the angle the gems moved in precisely, and then triangulate the position of the missing amulet on a map. If he had been in charge the vampires would have the location of the thing in hours instead of days, if they found it all.
He had said as much to Jean Claude. Jean Claude had given him a blank look Asher recognized as worry.
“It is a mistake to think the Council is foolish. If they are doing what you claim, then either it is necessary to track the amulet, or they are doing something else entirely. If it is the former then let them waste their time. If it is the latter then we must keep our eyes open. The Council is always looking for reasons to strike at us, and having their servants here already is not a good for us.”
Asher had recognized the truth of Jean Claude’s thinking. He had recruited several of the more experienced vampires to accompany him on his surveillance, making sure they had enough skill to remain undetected. Still, the Council vampires did not do anything unanticipated. Asher wondered what Jean Claude would say when he reported that the Council had spent another fruitless night playing with gems.
Buffy was late. That wasn’t so unusual, but she was supposed to be meeting with Asher at the restaurant she was going to help manage. Jean Claude had tackily named it “The Red”, but a job was a job and Buffy needed it. She didn’t want to piss off Asher, who was already pretty grumpy and was going to be her boss.
The restaurant was in a downtown St Louis, not too far from the Gateway Arch, in the first floor of a really tall building. Despite the tacky name Jean Claude was planning a very high end fine dining establishment, so Buffy was supposed to dress up for anything restaurant related, even if the restaurant wasn’t open yet and it was just a staff meeting. The dress code meant she had spent too long going through her clothes, trying to decide what was appropriate, and that had led her to being late, standing outside the Circus looking for a taxi that was supposed to have been waiting for her already.
She had no warning when she was suddenly knocked into the dead-end alleyway beside the circus, near the employee entrance. Shaking her head to try and clear the ringing in her ears, she flipped backwards just in time to miss being hit by the head of a sledgehammer. Literally.
There, in the mouth of the alley, was a face she recognized. “Jacob the Freki. That was your free one, Jacob.” She could feel her cheek throbbing. The asshole had blindsided her in the face with a hammer.
“Bitch, you’re gonna die.” He swung wildly, but with shifter speed and strength she couldn’t afford to let him hit her.
Ducking under a sideways swing, Buffy got a clear shot in to Jacob’s elbow, knocking the hammer out of his hands to clatter against a brick wall. Following up, she swept his feet out from under him before he could recover, knocking him onto his stomach. Without losing a second she rolled forward, climbing on top of him and putting her knee into his back while holding his wrists locked with her own arms.
“Jacob, I’m starting to think you don’t like me. Does Richard know you’re here? Because Richard said we were cool and that no bad little wolves would attack me.”
“Fuck you bitch! If you hadn’t interfered Richard would be fucking dead, and I’d be in charge of wolves in St Louis. You’re gonna die, for interfering and also for the fucking price on your head.”
“Jacob, Jacob, how are you going to kill me in your position? I could end this fight right now without effort. Let’s face it, you had the element of surprise, you got your free one, and now its over.”
“You think I came alone, you dumb cunt?”
Buffy looked up in time to see the three other werewolves standing by the entrance to the alley. One had picked up the fallen sledgehammer and was giving it a few test swings. Another was playing with what Buffy guessed was a silver knife. The third stood back, keeping passerby’s away from the alley.
“Three more puppies to play with?” She let go of one of Jacob’s wrists, quickly snagged it with her other hand, and placed her free hand on Jacob’s throat. She pressed her knee into his back harder, to remind him to behave.
“If you three move an inch I’m going to tear is head off. Check if I’m bluffing. I double dog dare you.”
The two armed werewolves smiled. The one with the knife advanced. “If you kill him then we have to split the money three ways instead of four. Go ahead. Asshole was stupid enough to attack before we were all here.”
Jacob cursed as he realized his backup wasn’t backing him up, and started struggling, but Buffy’s greater strength meant he couldn’t use his arms for leverage, and the knee in his back made using his legs to try and roll her over quite painful. Buffy thought hard and realized she didn’t want to kill Jacob, just yet. This was too public, and she needed to see what he knew and who was paying. Even better, if she turned him over to Richard and Anita she was sure they would do it for her.
Shifting her grip to Jacob’s head, she slammed it into the concrete hard. Jacob was out cold. She did it again, for good measure, and then stood up, kicking Jacob in the ribs because he was an asshole and he deserved it.
“Boys, nobody is splitting anything today. I’m going to count to three, and if you guys don’t split for real I’m going to go over there and put you to sleep like Jacob here, and then I’m handing everyone over to the vampires next door.” She smiled as she pointed to the circus with her thumb.
They charged her, all three of them. She ducked and weaved away from the knife and the sledgehammer, and the last wolve’s claws. Her first opportunity came when the knife wielder overextended himself trying to bury the knife in her gut. Her hand flashed out, grabbing his wrist and pulling in while her foot hit his jaw. Something crunched, and he dropped like a stone. Buffy flipped backwards to avoid the sledgehammer, but smiled at the remaining two while waving the silver knife she had taken from the now downed wolf.
“And then there were two. I’m feeling generous, boys. Get out of here while you can still walk.”
The sledge hammer was coming towards her again, and as Buffy ducked she heard the sharp bark of a gun and felt the shot hit her stomach. Werewolf number three was holding it. A woman somewhere outside the alley screamed. Buffy only shifted her position and buried the knife to the hilt into the hammer swinger’s stomach. The werewolf screamed, dropping the hammer. Buffy grabbed him, turning him around. One of her hands went to his throat, and the other held the knife still buried in his gut.
Using the dying werewolf as a shield she advanced towards the gunman. The gunman, realizing he was the last one left, turned and ran, only to be hit from the side by a bystander when he left the alley. Buffy dropped the werewolf she held as she watched the two fight, just in case one got away, but the fight was short with the gunman eventually losing both his gun and consciousness.
When the person who had jumped her attacker stood Buffy recognized one of the rat-shifters that Jean Claude hired for security. Bobby something.
“Hey, thanks for the assist. Who do you think we should call?”
Bobby was looking at her with an odd expression. “You’re bleeding.”
She looked down at her stomach, remembering the gunshot, and now that the adrenaline had worn off she was feeling it to. “So I am. Huh. I should really stop doing this.”
For some reason she wasn’t standing anymore. Bobby was leaning over her, lifting her blouse away from her stomach while talking on a radio. She was having trouble making out exactly what he was saying.
Bobby Lee was sure that the bullet was silver. Nothing else would have that reaction from the near indestructible bear shifter. After calling for help from inside the Circus he kneeled down beside her, noting the way her eyes weren’t tracking properly. There was a lot of blood, too.
“Hey! Buffy! Stay with me.”
Buffy looked up at him with a goofy look on her face. Her words were slurred as they came out. “He ruined my favorite shirt. Do you think Asher’s going to be angry that I’m late?”
Bobby Lee realized that something was very wrong. Checking her back he noticed the lack of exit wound. The silver was still inside of her. “I’m sorry Buffy, but this is going to hurt.”
Using his index and middle fingers he reached into the gunshot wound, fingers exploring carefully for the hard bullet. Maybe if he could remove the silver her healing abilities would hold out until the ambulance arrived. Buffy screamed, and then knew nothing.