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New City, Same Enemy

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This story is No. 1 in the series "The Maelstrom Series". You may wish to read the series introduction first.

Summary: When Wolfram and Hart decide to set up a branch in Chicago, Johnny Marcone looks for someone with experience fighting them. Wesley, late of Angel Investigations, seems a perfect candidate. Post 'White Night' and Episode 4x02 of Ats

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Literature > Dresden Files, TheAlkeniFR152574,32437722,90525 Oct 1116 Sep 12Yes

Ante Up

Disclaimer: I don't own Angel the Series or the Dresden Files. In this chapter I steal the description and of a type of Demon from D&D (if you know D&D you'll recognize it when you see it). I don't own that either. It belongs to Wizard's of the Coast, the masters at botching good roleplaying games.

Author's Note: Yes, I know that in Season 5 we learn that Wesley's mother is indeed alive, but this is fan-fiction. She's dead. So please don't complain to me how he talks to her on the line in episode 5x07. Thank you for your co-operation.

New City, Same Enemy

By Alkeni

Chapter 17: Ante Up

War Room
6:35 pm

“Lucien and Jacinta Drake used to share leadership of a cult they inherited from their father, one Tristan Drake.” Lindsey said. “Rather generic dark magic cult, albeit a fairly large one. Something approaching one thousand members or so, last time I heard back when I was with Wolfram and Hart. Lucien managed to drive Jacinta out of the cult, and she took some...couple dozen I guess of the cult with her.” He rolled out a map of the islands in Lake Michigan near Chicago. “Normally, all this stuff happening out on the West Coast wouldn't matter to us, but Jacinta Drake has decided to show up with her minions in tow here in Chicago. And she's decided to buy this island, here.” He pointed. “Now, I guess they could just be going there to have a little place to worship their dark gods in peace,”

“But if that's true, then I've got some property in Pompeii I'd like to sell you. Right on the mountain.” Wesley commented. He got odd looks from the other three – presumably for his choice of metaphor. He cleared his throat slightly, then looked back at the map. “Do you know anything about the island, or what kind of resources Jacinta Drake has to work with?”

“Just that she has a lot of money. We can assume her cultists will be well-equipped.” Lindsey said.

“How did you get the information anyway? Can we trust your source?” Mark asked.

“I'm not sure if we can trust him, per se.” Lindsey replied. “Richard Carlise decided to come to me and leak the information because his main rival in the firm, Denna Frost, is the one brokering the deal for Jacinta.”

“He's betraying a place like Wolfram and Hart over a petty rivalry?” Mark looked doubtful. “This whole thing could be a trap. Do we really want to risk committing our people on intelligence like this?” He shook his head. “I don't think so.”

Lindsey nodded. “I'll give you that it is definitely possible that it could be a trap, but I don't think is. I've been in Carlise's shoes, remember. Competition is literally deadly at Wolfram and Hart. Lilah was promoted to head of her division back in L.A. after slicing her boss's head off. Not getting the promotion if you've been angling for it means that the person who did get the promotion is going to either kill you or have you transferred to one of the third-world dimensions. And if you fail too much, they'll just shuttle you on down to ritual sacrifices. If Carlise's feeling the crunch this could be the way he's trying to take Denna down a notch or two to even the competition out. Believe me – everyone at Wolfram and Hart places their own career over the firm.”

“Or,” Abigail countered, stretching the word a bit. “By the same token, this could be his attempt to get brownie points with the higher-ups. Kill a whole bunch of Oracle Securities' people in a way that doesn't violate the Accords.”

Lindsey gesticulated slightly, conceding her point. “That is quite possible.”

“But if it isn't a trap, then we can't just let Jacinta Drake and her cult get away with whatever it is they're planning on that island.” Wesley said for all of them. “We need to find out for ourselves one way or another.”

“I could send a team on ahead to find out...” Mark started.

Wesley shook his head. “No. if it really is a trap then we're just sending all or most of that team to their deaths. I'm not going to lose more people. Not so soon. I'll lead the team.”

“Wesley, you're the top of the command structure here. We can't have you dying on a reconnaissance mission.”

“I will not send any of my own people to their possible deaths just to check if something is a trap unless I'm wiling to risk my own life along with them.”

Mark threw up his hands. “Oh sure, what the hell, let's just send the entire command staff out on a reconnaissance mission!”

“Not a bad idea.” Abigail said. “We're the best Oracle Securities has. You're thinking like a soldier, Mark, and that has its place, but this isn't exactly the kind of war you're used to. Sometimes you have to commit your big guns. If it is a trap, we're going to have to deal with dozens of cultists on the way out.”

“Not to mention a variety of minor demons.” Wesley added. “Cults like this accumulate the things like pack-rats, as it were.”

Mark shrugged. “My advice is that you shouldn't lead it, and we shouldn't send out the command staff.” He said firmly. “That said, if that is the decision, I'll go along with it. But if it is going to you, me and Abigail, I think we need a fourth person.” He turned to Abigail. “What about that pyromancer friend of yours? I've heard good things about him from Petrovich. What was his name...” Mark's voice trailed off a moment as he grasped for it. “Cross? David Cross, right?”

Abigail nodded. “Yea. I'd have to ask him, but I can't see any reason why David would say no.” Then, “So when do we leave?”

“We shouldn't wait long, but we'll need some time to prepare, get ready.” Wesley said. “We'll leave at midnight. Get some rest.” Wesley left the war room, heading for his office. He wasn't going to be taking his own advice. Sleep had been something to avoid, for many months now.

Denna Frost's Office
6:42 pm

Denna picked up the phone in the middle of its second ring. “Denna Frost here. Talk to me.”

“Carlise took the bait. He told McDonald.” The low, rough voice said on the other end of the line.

“You're sure?” Denna demanded.

“Look, I heard the whole damn conversation.” Came the reply. “I'm pretty fucking sure I know what I heard.”

Denna exhaled in exasperated frustration. “Fine. Your money will be in your account in a few minutes.”

“It had better be there.” The man threatened, then hung up. Denna rolled her eyes, then turned to her computer, transferring the man's payment to his Swiss bank account.

When Richard Carlise had tried to suborn her secretary, the woman had – displaying a powerful and well placed sense of self preservation and career security consciousness – come to her and told her what Denna's longtime rival was up to. Denna had seized on the opportunity to have a conduit to feed false information to Richard. It had meant giving him some good information so he wouldn't catch on to the fact that her secretary was indeed still loyal to her, but now it had finally paid off, big time. She had concrete evidence of Richard betraying the company to a traitor and known member of a significant local rival.

And, as a bonus, if Oracle Securities took the bait, she'd be able to claim credit for the deaths of anyone that damn company sent to investigate, but the blame really couldn't fall back on Wolfram and Hart – not directly, anyway, which mean Oracle Securities couldn't demand a redress of grievances.. And they would send someone, she knew. Several someones. They had to. It was how white hats worked. It was what they did.

All that was left was to tell Jacinta Drake so she could actually set up and spring that trap. Its not as if she can be lying in wait for them if she doesn't know they're coming, Denna mused to herself as she dialed the number of the cult leader's satellite phone. There were, of course, no land-lines on the island, and cell phone coverage didn't reach it either. It rang a few times, then it was picked up.

“I hope you have a very good reason for calling me,” Jacinta Drake's imperious voice came across the line coldly. “I do not take to interruptions well.” Denna rolled her eyes. The woman was more full of herself than most politicians were of shit.

“We have a leak, here. We just found and plugged it, but we're pretty damn sure that he leaked your purchase to Oracle Securities.”

“The company owned by the former Watcher?” She asked. There was no worry or scorn – or really any emotional consideration in her voice. Just an intend to confirm they were talking about what she thought they were talking about.

“Yes.” Denna confirmed. “That company.”

“And you expect them to try and do something to interfere with my presence on this island?” Of course I do, you moronic bitch. Denna didn't vocalize that, of course.

“I wouldn't be wasting your valuable time if I didn't think that was a distinct possibility. They're white hats. They're not going to just sit there and let you do your thing in peace. Part of the whole 'they think you're evil' thing. And this in a country with religious freedom! Such a terrible shame.” Denna hammed it up in the last sentence.

Jacinta was not amused. “Very well. Thank you for the information. Wolfram and Hart will, I presume, have no qualms about me killing them?”

“Of course not. Go right ahead.” Denna said. Jacinta hung up at that, not deigning to reply.

Oracle Securities Boat, Harbor
11:37 pm

“Go there, kill them all?” David Cross asked as the four of them got on the boat to take them to the island. It wasn't a large vehicle – just large enough to carry them and their weapons, and quickly. A larger boat was also owned by the company – this wasn't the first time Oracle Securities had had to go out onto Lake Michigan or one of its islands – but there was no need to take it when it was just the for of them.

“Essentially.” Wesley replied. “The odds are likely that we simply won't be able to kill them all with just the four of us, and the moment it does become too much for us to handle, we withdraw immediately.” Mark started the boat up, and soon they were pulling out of the harbor. Wesley watched idly as the brown-haired man lit the tips of his fingers aflame. The five words David Cross had just said were the most words Wesley had heard the pyromancer string together. Though, granted, this was only the second time he'd actually been around the man, the first having been a brief interview before hiring him on. It had pretty much been a foregone conclusion that he would hire the man though, since Abigail had recommended him.

Wesley had some small talent with magic, and fireballs in particular, but the fact of the matter was that he was a third-rate caster on his best day. He had some variety of spells, which put him a bit ahead of David, but not by much, given just how much better with fire David was.

As the boat skimmed across the surface of Lake Michigan, Wesley idly wondered what was going on back on the west coast, in Los Angeles and Sunnydale. Obviously, given that the world hadn't ended yet, the Hellmouth was still under control, and he could safely presume that whatever was behind the rain of fire in L.A. had been defeated by Angel and the rest of his former friends. Or kept at bay, or what have you. Part of him was curious if Angel had actually been the impetus for Faith breaking out of prison – perhaps he had needed the strength of a Slayer to help take whatever it had been down. He shrugged, mentally and physically.

He suspected whatever was happening in Sunnydale – something was always happening on the Hellmouth, after all, so he was safe betting on that – the destruction of the Watcher's Council was related to it. It had actually been a month after the fact that he'd finally found out about the destruction of his former employers, of the organization that he'd been raised to join and be a part of since wasn't surprising that it had taken him so long, given his isolation from the Council. While the destruction of its London Offices had been news, Wesley had somehow managed to miss it, and well...he wasn't the most approachable of men, and he suspected Mark and Abigail had presumed he'd already heard, and would talk if he wanted to talk. Lilah...well, it wasn't as if they talked much about anything of substance, their little conversation last night non-withstanding.

But....well...he had mixed feelings about the destruction of the organization and the death of so many of its core members. For all its flaws, the Council has functioned as force for good in the world, and they served an important and necessary role in the past. They tried their best, though like any long standing institution...things took on a life of their own. some areas, there methods were either questionable or dangerously antiquated. – and the irony of an organization that had remained willfully blind to the benefits of modern weaponry getting destroyed by a very modern explosive device had not been lost on him at all. Sometimes, thought, the Council's methods and policies had been both dangerously antiquated and questionable, such as the Crucimentum – and...well, they had fired him. True, he'd really deserved it, given how dismal he'd been at being a Watcher, but at the same time...he'd been so bound up in the rules, and guidelines of an out-of-touch and...for a time, he'd harbored a desire, a bit of a dream really, that he could redeem himself and rejoin the Council. He was raised from birth to be part of it, after had defined him. But eventually...well, he'd burned his bridges with the organization after he'd sided with Angel over the issue of Faith.

And...well...he continued to hold to that action, continued to believe that it had been the right thing to do, that he would do it all again given the chance. Even after the 'Connor situation' had started...then ended so violently and shatteringly. Not even after Angel had nearly smothered him with a pillow did he regret his choice. He regretted other choices made before and after, but probably the one choice, the only choice he'd ever made that he hadn't regretted, was that one.

But...still...there were people in the Council that he had counted as friends, once, and somewhat still did, though they'd only kept in intermittent contact. There were people on the Council who hadn't been as bad as the rest of the organization had become...and their deaths were not something to be pleased about. And the death of all the others...they weren't evil. They were flawed – very flawed in some cases – men and women who were doing what they thought was best for the world, trying to protect humanity, to do good. And for a long time, and even right up to the end, perhaps despite themselves, they had succeeded in that goal, in the large picture anyway.

Of course, among those who had died...his father. Roger Wyndam-Pryce was dead. When Wesley had heard about that...well...mixed feelings didn't begin to cover the gamut of emotions that had roiled within him.

In fact...the only reason he'd found out as soon as he had, about the Council's destruction, was because his father's lawyers had finally tracked him down regarding his father's will, which apparently the old bastard hadn't gotten around to writing him out of before his death. And with his mother several years dead and as an only child...Wesley had inherited quite a lot of money, and the Wyndam-Pryce Estate was well. Lovely.

Wesley shook his head violently, pulling himself from his thoughts and reflections back into the here and now Mark was still piloting the boat, and he saw Abigail and David talking – or rather, Abigail was talking to David, and David was either listening intently, or doing a very good job at faking such.

The Lighthouse, Isle of Demonreach
12:05 am

“Azhelmenek of Makhash, hear my words and take these offerings. Hear them, and rise from your pit to forge a pact.” Amy Madison intoned. She repeated those words twice, then began the next step of the ritual, chanting in some long-dead native American language. Jacinta, watching this, scowled. She knew that Amy Madison was doing as Diocletian had sworn he would order her to do, but she didn't like it. She hadn't come to Chicago to have someone else summon Azhelmenek, then hand the making of the pact over to her. She had come to summon and bind Azhelmenek to her will, and use him to defeat her brother. In theory it should all work out well, in the end. Amy would perform the ritual that brought Azhelmenek to this dimension in a limited form, but enough that a further pact could be negotiated. Amy would then hand the reins of the magical forces she was tapping over to Jacinta.

But Azhelmenek was a tricky demon. Jacinta worried that during that transfer, the demon would be able to escape the bindings and enter this realm fully. Not a pleasant prospect. If he entered unbound... that damned Diocletian had promised that it wasn't going to happen, but his propaganda aside, he didn't know everything, just half of everything.

She sighed and looked away from Amy and at the rest of the half-chamber they were in. The two women were standing – well, actually, Amy was kneeling – in the bottom floor and room of a lighthouse. Half of one anyway. As tall as it ever was, somehow it had lost one side, as if it had been cleaved in two horizontally from the top, giving it a look resembling a cross-section of a shotgun barrel.

Jacinta continued to look around the half-chamber, her eyes eventually falling on the three offerings laid out for Azhelmenek. They were fairly standard fare for the kinds of things you offer to get the attention of a demon of Azhelmenek type and power. They were not the offerings that would go into the actual pact, but they would bring him here so they could strike a pact.

The first offering: A bowl of blood, one part the blood of a newborn – well, two and a half months old – baby girl and one part the blood of a male virgin.

The second offering: A Sidhe child. Specifically, in this case, one from the Summer Court. Procuring that had been difficult, and was the main reason it had taken her as long as it had to come here once she'd crafted her plan. The golden-haired creature was chained to the ground, weeping softly and piteously as the cold iron of the chains burned at her wrists, angles and waist, like acid.

The third offering: A solid gold idol, about six-inches high. It was in this idol that Azhelmenek would reside as the pact was forged, the bargain struck.

What happened after...well...that was the whole reason for the negotiations in the first place.

Jacinta was distracted from watching the ritual by the sound of one of her followers entering the immediate area of the lighthouse, just as Amy switched to Sumerian for the next phase of the ritual. Jacinta turned to the approaching man, a scowl on her face. From the black, purple trimmed robes he wore, she knew he was a member of her inner circle – which didn't mean she'd bothered to learn the man's name. The cultists knelt to the ground before her.

“Forgive my interruption, my lady.” He said, somehow managing to avoid prostrating himself, though Jacinta presumed that the obsequiousness practically oozing out of him made that a difficult task. “But I bring news from those of your followers that you assigned to watch the beach.”

“Well, then, tell me! What did they see?” She demanded crossing her arms in front of her chest.

“Of course my lady.” He said, inclining his head downward farther than it already was. Jacinta stood there, waiting for a minute, drumming the fingers of her right hand against her left upper arm as she waited. Finally, “A boat has come to the shore. There are four people on it, and one of them is clear the former Watcher, Wesley Wyndam-Pryce.”

Jacinta's expression turned pensive. So the lawyer had been right. Well, it was a good thing she had made plans to handle it. “Go ahead with the plan.” She ordered. “They will die here.”

The Beach, Isle of Demonreach
12:05 am

None of the four Oracle Securities employees said anything as they got off the boat and put on their night-vision goggles – military quality, procured by Baldwin through one quasi-legal connection or another. The half-moon in the sky above would provide some light, but hardly enough to be relevant. They would need the goggles. Wesley drew a pistol and slowly screwed on a silencer. Abigail pulled one of her knives from her belt, twirling it in her grip. David didn't bother creating any fire just yet, and he kept the pistol he'd been given as back – in case he absolutely positively had to kill a human, since there would be no violations of the First Law under Wesley's watch. Mark had two silenced pistols, one in each hand, and a shotgun slung across his pack. He was the heaviest armed of them all, but he wasn't even carrying an assault rifle of any kind – none of them were going in loaded for bear.

Wesley went ahead, and saw two cultists in the tree cover at the edge of the beach. They looked like they were walking towards the beach, one of them smoking a cigarette, it looked like. Wesley gestured to the others and carefully sneaked his way across the beach. He drew close behind the two, who were talking about something in one demon dialect or another. Wesley could understand them, but he didn't bother listening long enough to make out more than a few words. With a flick of his wrist, Wesley had sliced his collapsible sword right into one man's neck and pulled it out, the cut going halfway through the man's neck. He was dead by the time his body hit the ground. Before the other man could react, Wesley had planted two shots in his forehead, even with the silencer, Wesley winced at just how much sound the gun made. He pulled out his radio. “Alright. We keep going.” The other three followed him into the treeline. There was a rough path, well-worn, through the treeline into the interior of the island.

Island Interior, Isle of Demonreach
12:09 am

A small, bat-like demon flew down and landed on the held out arm of a man wearing red robes trimmed with black. The way the demon landed was much like the way a falcon might land on the arm of a falconer. It whispered something in the ear of its summoner, who nodded. They were approaching. As planned, the two 'guards' – cultists who had recently disappointed Jacinta one way or another and had been put there specifically to die – had been killed by the attackers.

Now it was time to proceed with the next phase of Jacinta's plan. The trap was laid, and the bait was taken. Soon the jaws would snap...and then clamp around the intruders from Oracle Securities. The summoner lifted a radio to his mouth. “Send all manes to the target area. All other forces gather around it as planned.

Path to the Interior, Isle of Demonreach
12:13 am

The sound of low moaning up ahead drew them all to a halt. There was a slight curve in the path just ahead. Carefully, they looked around and saw about two dozen demons up ahead. Wesley recognized their species immediately.

Three foot tall humanoids, Manes had the appearance of being morbidly obese, but were actually bloated with acid and rancid gas. Pus ran freely from open sores, and maggots were clustered at those sores. The creatures had jagged claws, and the teeth were little, better, yellow and half-rotted. The scum of the Hell Dimensions, Manes were pathetic beyond belief, among the most basic of demons, often consumed as food by more powerful demons in some of the less pleasant hell dimensions. They'd make plenty of noise dying no matter how you sliced it. But it looked like this wasn't some Wolfram and Hart trap, so they could go, pick up reinforcements and come back if the response to the noise was too much.

Wesley nodded to David. “Go.” David said nothing in response, but closed his eyes for a moment, then opened them as a fireball formed in each hand. He flung the magical weapons at the demons. Immediately screeches of terrified pain went up, as they raced like headless chickens, several burning quickly, having received the full-force of the fireballs. Wesley and Mark opened up with their pistols, and Abigail flung one knife, which punched right through three manes, killing them all in explosions of noxious gas and acidic smoke. The smell threatened to overpower them, and Wesley doubled over, fighting the urge to retch.

Which was what saved his life. Mark heard the tell-tale click of a gun, and dove to the ground, hard-earned instinct taking over. Abigail, through a combination of luck and skill managed to throw up a shield spell around herself and David just in time, though a bullet did pass through David's left hand, leaving a gaping bleeding hole in his palm as it passed on through as if his hand hadn't been there. David bit pain a cry of pain.

Wesley was still alive because he'd doubled over, but he didn't escape unscathed. A bullet clipped hiss side, which reflected its course down to the ground than over his back. The wound was noticeable and painful, blood starting to seep slowly out of the wound. Wesley clamped his left hand to the wound as he fell to the ground.

The cultists ejected the empty clips from their AK-47s, loading new ones. Mark counted his blessings that he'd packed a few fragmentation grenades along with him – against Wesley's orders, actually. A small part of him took perverse pleasure in the idea that he'd be able to say 'I told you so', though that part of his mind was far from the control. As the cultists prepared to fire again, Mark threw the grenade he'd already pulled the pin from. He didn't bother to check how many of the enemy he killed, throwing an another grenade and unslinging his shotgun and firing that. He was joined by David, who threw a fireball at the tree cover they were used. Mark grabbed Wesley's free hand and pulled him up, and the four immediately turned and fled, the sound of more demons screeching coming after them, and bullets flying behind them.

They reached the beach within minutes, David having ripped strips from his shirt and wrapped them around his hand, which only did a little to stem the bleeding, but it was better than nothing. They were almost to the boat,

The Beach Isle of Demonreach
12:19 am

“I don't think so, Mr. Wyndam-Pryce.” Franz said. He'd fallen in with Jacinta Drake, given no other options, when she'd showed up in town, and now he had a chance to give some payback to Oracle Securities. He looked down at the remote in his hand and pressed the switch. The C4 that had been strapped to the boat blew. Fortunately for the four white hats, they were far enough way to dive down – Mark pulling Wesley with him.

They suffered no more injuries, but the fact remained. The team was stuck on the island, with a whole host of pissed off cultists and their demonic slaves and minions.

They're fucked. Franz thought happily.
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