I do not own Angel the Series or the Dresden FilesNew City, Same Enemy
Chapter 15: First EyeUnknown Cavern in Undertown
Gregory finally stooped his flight from Oracle Securities over a half an hour after it started. There was no doubt in his mind that he hadn't been pursued, but he wanted to put as much space between himself and what was left of his brood as possible. He had been overconfident. After a century and more of being the top vampire on the Cleveland Hellmouth, he'd assumed the same would hold true on Chicago. Instead, he'd nearly gotten himself killed. And he couldn't even pin the blame on incompetent minions – it had been his plan from the word go.
No. It was that never to be sufficiently damned Englishman, and that wizard friend of his. When Wolfram and Hart had offered him an obscene amount of money to relocate to Chicago and help them deal with this group of human mercenaries led by a former Watcher, he'd expected it to be easy money. He'd used the firm's services before, and performed services for them as well, over his long life, and he'd been familiar with previous mortal instruments of the demonic trio calling itself the Senior Partners. He expected it to be more of the same. And while he had been top vampire on the Cleveland Hellmouth, it was still a much smaller city than Chicago, and the overall vampire and demon population meant the struggle for feeding grounds and the like was stiff. Unlike in Sunnydale, where no Master Vampire could go for long without drawing the attention and thus ire of the Slayer, numerous broods of vampires and demons had divvied up Cleveland and the area around it, fighting eachother as much as the handful of groups of mortal hunters – minor talent casters, focused practitioners, just determined people with no powers at all. Never a threat to him, but always annoying.
So the idea of going to Chicago – a place with no competition – when combined with the massive payout Wolfram and Hart offered had been too tempting to turn down. He should've stopped to wonder why Chicago had such a low Black Court Population. The presence of the Red Court, under Bianca had explained it for a while – the demonic creatures inaccurately but efficiently labeled as vampires had no love for their 'Black Court' cousins. House Raith was the person he had suspected, since one of their main centers was just outside of the city. The emotion feeding white-bellies hardly wanted the – in their view – vulgar Black Court around their city.
But Wolfram and Hart had assured him the White Court wouldn't be a problem. He'd thought it meant they'd done their usual thing, negotiating and cutting deals. Not so much. The White Court wasn't a problem because the real reason why the Black Court didn't last long in Chicago – and thus why they avoided it – was because of Harry Dresden. Gregory knew that now. Wolfram and Hart had played him for cannon fodder.The way I see it, I have three choices...
He could stay here in Chicago, try to make a new brood and try again. And die, soon enough, with only fledglings to work with. He could run with his tail between his legs, back to Cleveland, to try and reclaim his status and rebuild his little empire, or maybe to somewhere else – perhaps back to Europe. Or he could stay here and think outside the box. He would be there, to see this Wesley Wyndam-Pryce die. Preferably at his own hands, but if he played a role in the smug English bastard's defeat, that would be enough for him. And that damn wizard would pay too.
“I'll see them both dead.” He swore. “All I need is something more...I need power. And I need more powerful minions.” Black Courtiers were the strongest of the three breeds of vampire. And even they'd proven to be not enough. He looked around the cavern and then set off down one of the tunnels he hadn't come in through, chosen at random.Wesley's Office, Oracle Securities
“Apart from the dead, we have injuries ranging across the map.” Mark reported. “Cuts and bruises to broken arms and legs.”
“Did any of them have families? The ones that died, I mean?” Wesley asked, his voice a little quieter than usual.
“No wives or children.” Mark said. “One of them had a fiance. They all have family of one form or another.”
“Get me the contact information.”
“Wes, you don't need to-” The former marine started, but Wesley cut him off.
“Yes I do. They were my responsibility. It's my fault they're dead. I should make the calls. I'll just have to come up with something...some kind of cover story, for how they died.”
“We're fighting a war, Wes. People die in war. I don't like it any more than you do.” Mark replied. “But you can't blame yourself. Unless you pulled the trigger, or set off the bomb yourself...or whatever it is that killed them, you can't blame yourself for the deaths. You didn't see this coming, I didn't see this coming, Abigail didn't – none of us did. The most we can do is make sure it doesn't happen again.”
“Gregory got away.” Wesley said softly after a few moments of silence. “That bastard vampire got away – I almost had him, and instead, he managed to escape.” He entered a few keys into the computer on his desk and brought up the security camera footage of the ground floor, around the door. “Also this one.” He zoomed in on another vampire escaping a bare half-minute after Gregory. “Abigail says she's pretty sure this one is called Franz, one of Gregory's chief lieutenants. His others were that Daniel we met down in Undertown, and a woman named Natasha, who Abigail says she took out. I have no reason to doubt that, so it looks as if we're down to two Black Court vampires in the entire city.”
“Unless they start recruiting.” Mark commented. “Besides, after the thrashing they just got, what's to say they'll stay here?”
“Nothing, but for the moment, I want to proceed under the assumption that they are.” Wesley replied. “Vampires are nothing if not absurdly stubborn.” And that applies even if the vampire in question has a bloody soul.
Wesley thought spitefully. He rarely spared many thoughts for his old 'friends' in Los Angeles. When he did though, it was even more rare that he spare pleasant thoughts for them. Angel, Fred, Gunn, Cordelia, even Lorne. It wasn't quite hate, but it was close.
Mark saw the angry expression on his employer's face, and suspected, from what he knew of the man's past – and of this so-called vampire with a soul he'd worked for, that Wesley was once again thinking about his former friends in the City of the Angels. He shook his head. Whatever happened to give Wes such a hate-on for them...its not healthy for him.
He liked the guy – somewhat, anyway – but the man was borderline crazy, in his mind, and even a little scary. And Mark didn't scare easily.
“Alright then.” Mark nodded. “I'll see to it.”
Wesley nodded, staring off into space. He was going over Gregory's escape in his mind. Sooner or later, he would catch up to that damned vampire. He would see him die.Red Court Lair, Undertown
If Denna Frost and Richard Carlise were at all nervous to be alone in a – admittedly large - cavern with nearly ninety vampires of the Red Court, they did a very good job of not letting anyone – not even each other – notice. Not that that surprising. After working at Wolfram and Hart for any length of time, very little visible fazed you. Usually because a person just stopped getting fazed by anything after long-term exposure to Wolfram and Hart, its clients and their...habits. Most of the time in fact. The rest just learned to swallow their bile and grin and bear it. Working Wolfram and Hart was nothing if not the perfect place for the strong of stomach and weak of morals.
Plus, it never did to allow a rival to see you in even a split second of weakness
Richard stood back, behind Denna, allowing her to be the one to talk to the two Red Court vampires that had come up to 'greet them' as they entered the cavern. Just the way he wanted it. He had no problem with vampires in of themselves, and the death and destruction they wreaked was par the course for the kinds of client he dealt with on a daily basis. Nor did he have a problem with feeding his fellow humans to these vampires, which was exactly why there were here to begin with. Thanks to the little deal Denna had made – which, personally, he thought was more than a little stupid, given the geopolitics, as it were, of the supernatural world right now, but Lilah had authorized it as 'exactly the kind of thing Wolfram and Hart is here for'. Which is very true. Though I can't wait until this whole thing blows up in Denna's face, and hopefully bitch Lilah will catch some flak from the Senior Partners for this too.
He went back to his previous train of thought, shaking his head a little as he did so. Having those thoughts wasn't healthy, even in private – since you were never sure if you were in private when you worked for Wolfram and Hart.
No, he didn't have a problem with feeding his own species to the Red Court. That wasn't why he'd not been fond of being sent along with this meeting.
No. Richard's problem was with meeting with vampires in general, because regardless of the Court they were part of and regardless of the fact that they would be rather unlikely attack and feed off of him thanks to his employment by Wolfram and Hart, every vampire he'd ever met with – and he'd met with vampires of all three Courts – always looked at him like he as food. Which, technically he was, but he sure as hell didn't enjoy getting looks to that effect.
“You have nerve, walking in here, human.” One of the vampires started. Denna still didn't – visibly at least – let the words or the tone effect her. The vampire stepped closer to her and ran a hand through the lawyer's long hair. “I've also found blondes so...delicious.” Richard laughed. Denna remained unfazed, but slapped the vampires hand away.
“I'm with Wolfram and Hart. Specifically, about a delivery of humans that Baron Zaragoza has contracted us to deliver.” The blonde woman continued. “I'm quite sure that his grace is not interested in loosing the money he's already paid and the humans you'll be getting just because you'd like a snack.”
The vampire that had spoken stepped back a little, an annoyed expression on his face. “You will wait here. I will get the Baron.” The cavern was large, and unlit. Plus there were no doubt collateral caverns and tunnels for the eighty-seven Red Courtiers to live in. The vampire turned and vanished away into the dark areas not lit by the small, weak lights both lawyers had with them.
Denna turned to Richard. “You couldn't sounded a little less eager about that vampire draining me of all my blood.”
“What can I say?” Richard gesticulated widely, smirking. He couldn't quite pull off the 'who, me?' expression he was trying though. “I hate you. I'd love for you to die – and at the hands of vampires you made a deal with no less, which would have some lovely irony. And, as an added bonus, I'd lose the only rival I have for advancing in the firm.”
“You really think Lilah will promote you? Believe me, I'll have your balls on a big shiny silver platter long before I die. I hope you enjoy singing soprano.”
“I don't sing.” Richard replied flatly.
“You will.” Denna told him, one eyebrow cocked. “A big a shiny silver platter.”
Baron Fernando Zaragoza cleared his throat from the side. “I'm not entirely sure what I've interrupted, but I believe that whatever it is, it is entirely irrelevant to the reason the two of you are here.”
“Mostly, your grace.” Richard said. “Its an old argument between myself and Denna, but it should not infringe on our ability to serve our clients.”
“We have secured the humans in the quantities you requested. You have paid part of the fee up front, but before we arrange for the portal to Pylea to open and bring in your purchases, we'll need the rest. Here's the invoice.” Denna reached into her suit jacket and pulled out a tri-folded piece of paper, which she handed to one of the Red Courtiers, who in turn passed it to Zaragoza.
The Baron looked up with a raised eyebrow after unfolding and reading the invoice. “This is more than the agreed-upon price.”
“We had some unexpected overhead.” Denna, smiling. “You will of course pay the entire listed price if you want your product.”
Zaragoza scowled angrily. “Does Wolfram and Hart really think that they can cheat me?!”
“We're not cheating you.” Denna replied. “We're lawyers. If you'd read the fine print of the contract-”
Zaragoza lunged at her and pinned her to the cavern wall, one hand clenched around her neck. “I need but to apply a little more pressure and you'll be trying to breath without a windpipe.”
“Sounds like a plan. Kill her, and I'll pay the difference in price myself.” Richard said, cheering the vampire on.
“Kill me,” Denna managed to get out in a strained voice, “and you'll never get your product. I'm the one here who knows how to open the portal. Not Richard, and sure as hell not you.” That son of a bitch will die. Slowly, if I have any choice in the matter.
Zaragoza looked from Denna, to Richard and then back to Denna. Despite no longer needing to breathe, he let our an angry, long suffering sigh. He stepped back, letting Denna fall back down to the ground, barely managing to catch herself against the wall, so as to stay on her feet. “Very well. I brought the agreed upon price with me.” He nodded to another one of his vampires, who carried a briefcase. “I will have to get the rest. However, I do warn you, lawyer.” He spat the profession out like a curse. “If you cross me again – if any of you cross me again, I will not stop until I have lain waste to your offices here in Chicago.”
“Even if you succeed in that task, you won't have enough vampires left standing to complete your other goal, the whole reason you're here, skulking around in the dark, dank caverns of Undertown rather than setting up some place in the open, like Bianca did before you. Killing Dresden, the man you're so terrified of that you're hiding in here like scared little bunny rabb-” Zaragoza lunged at Denna, unwilling or unable to take her taunts any longer. But he recoiled, angry burns forming on his hand. Denna smirked and held up the silver cross for all of them to see. “Crosses aren't as bad for you lot as they are for Black Court, but they're not particularly pleasant either, as I understand it. Now, can we do business, or shall we leave.”
Zaragoza made no reply, but nodded to another of his brethren, who turned around and vanished into the darkness, returning with several bundles of hundred dollar bills. Zaragoza took those and the briefcase and handled the whole pile of money to Denna.
“See? I knew you had it in you.” She reached into her coat and placed the small crystal she withdrew on the ground. She spoke a few words that had far too many consonants to be a human language, and then the air swirled and a portal opened. “Your humans are just on the other side. Speak these words to close the portal when you're done.” She handed a piece of paper to Zaragoza. “Just sound them out. Too many consonants, I know, but what can you do about demon languages?”Wesley's Office, Oracle Securities
“...and in other news, the hunt is on in Southern California for the escaped Faith Lehane. Wanted for murder, Lehane turned herself in in 2000, confessing to two murders and various assault charges. Yesterday afternoon, Lehane broke out of , reportedly punching right through the glass in the visitors area, and severely injuring two guards on her way towards the window, which she leapt from-” Wesley turned the television off in the middle of the anchorwoman's sentence.
Faith had broken out of prison. Wonderful.
He'd always suspected her desire to redeem herself had been too good to be true. He hadn't warned Angel of the impending attack by the Council's wet-work team because he cared about saving Faith's life. No. He'd done it because Angel was – well, had been, at the time – his friend, and he hadn't been willing to betray that friendship, even for the opportunity to return to the Council. Though, by that point he'd already come to the conclusion that the Council and everything it said and did was approximately 75% absolute rubbish. Returning the Council simply hadn't been that important to him – at least not at the cost of betraying a friend, Vampire or no.
Still, the fact that she'd managed to stay in there for nearly three years was an accomplishment in of itself. He wouldn't have been surprised if she'd broken out after a month or less.
Wesley picked up the phone and dialed Mark's office. “Mark.”
“There's a woman – Faith Lehane. She's apparently just escaped from prison back in California. Now, I doubt I'm that high on her list, but on the off chance I'm wrong, I'm issuing a kill on sight order for her. Have her picture shown to all the guards. If she comes near the building, I want her killed.”
“What the hell is she?”
“One of the worst things I can conceive of – a Slayer that's gone rogue."