Disclaimer: Buffyverse and Dresdenverse are not mine. In addition to the actual Dresden Files books, I have also drawn some bits of information and more in depth details about some aspects the Dresdenverse from the Dresden Files RPG books, which give some nice examinations of how that universe works that you can't give in a book in one place (text walls of extrapolation being a turn off for most readers). I don't own the DFRPG either. I also don't own Thucydides's line about war and money.
Author's Note: Thanks for all the reviews!New City, Same Enemy
Chapter 2: The Meeting
The supernatural world was a world within a world. In the middle of an otherwise normal slum, you might have a nest of vampires, or a wizard living in an apartment complex in the rich district of town. Or a law firm run by and for demons.
Wesley considered idly. Caritas had been another such place, and like McAnally's Pub was, it had been a Accorded Neutral Ground under the Unseelie Accords. McAnally's was not, unlike Caritas, protected by additional wards rendering violence impossible, but the players active in Chicago, from what little he knew about the supernatural state of affairs here, were a little more respectful of the Accords than the residents of Los Angeles. Or were more worried about those who did respect them, anyway.
Wesley took another drink of the beer he'd ordered as he waited at the table. It had been Marcone's wish to have the meeting here, and so he was waiting. He was only drinking the one beer – and it was some of the best beer he'd had in America – in the meantime.
It didn't take that long. He'd arrived early, and Marcone had arrived exactly on time. He also, predictably had not arrived alone. Wesley took a moment to look over the crime lord and his two companions. One, a tall blue-eyed blonde virtual amazon was, unless Wesley missed his guess, was a Valkyrie, working for Monoc Securities. Wesley had never seen one in person, but from time to time even the Council had found itself in need of the skills Monoc could bring to the table, and it had been duly included in his education as a Watcher. Her loyalty to Marcone would last as long as his money, and no longer. But Wesley highly doubted Marcone was in any danger of going to the poorhouse any time soon.
Marcone's other companion was also easily to classify. The massive redheaded man all but screamed 'enforcer', but Wesley could also see the intense loyalty Marcone had. One didn't have to be an expert and reading people – and Wesley could be good at that at time, and abysmal at it at others – to see that.
“Mr. Wyndam-Pryce. Good afternoon.” Marcone said, as he sat down. The Valkyrie sat down next her subcontracted employer, and the other man simply stood, keeping a wary eye open.
“Mr. Marcone.” Wesley said. “And...?”
“This is Mister Hendricks.” He said, indicating the enforcer, “and Ms. Gard.” He steepled his fingers. “You are a very interesting man, Mr. Wyndam-Pryce. I do believe, that when it comes to Wolfram and Hart, you are excellent choice for dealing with them. I am prepared to give the job to you – your record with Angel Investigations speaks for itself – so the only one, it would seem, that needs convincing is you.”
“Indeed. Although, I am more than a little surprised you are opposing Wolfram and Hart's activities, given your...extracurricular business interests.”
“I already have lawyers, whose first loyalty is to me. I don't need ones that work for demons. I like my soul, such as it is, exactly where it is. Chicago is my town, and I had hoped becoming a Freeholding Lord would solidify that. Unfortunately, it seems the recent truce in the Red Court-White Council War has given Wolfram and Hart the desire to set up shop here.”
The war between the Red Court and the White Council had been welcomed by the Watchers Council. The Slayer was excellent at dealing with Hellmouths and what came from them, unaffiliated demons and the highly fragmented Black Court, and the Council was more than capable of making the Red and White Courts hurt, but the Slayer wasn't really equipped to take on a threat like the more organized Red and White Courts, nor could she be spared from her more direct duties, and the Watchers were not practitioners on the scale of The White Council, who had the capability to put a massive dent in the Red Court. The Council had provided some aid and intelligence when the war was ongoing, but neither council particularly trusted the other. What few contacts he still had in his former Employer's organization had told him that Travers and his circle had been particularly furious about the truce, but like so much recently, he was powerless to change it.
“What exactly would the nature of this job be?” Wesley asked.
“You would not be asked to break any laws – or at least not any laws that you didn't break when you were with Angel Investigations. The fact that Wolfram and Hart is also a Freeholding Lord,” That is interesting. I didn't know that, though it makes sense that demon lawyers would sign onto one of the most complicated and vague treaties in the history of the world.
“Does restrict your actions as an employee of mine somewhat. I am not prepared to engage in full scale war with the firm just yet. You would, with substantial resources at your disposal, work against Wolfram and Hart, its clients and its projects. So far they've been just getting started in the town, but I do not like their interference in my, as you say, extracurricular business interests, and their intrusion into the supernatural underworld here in Chicago is creating chaos. I do not like chaos. Harry Dresden makes enough of it on his own.” Marcone was not a man to spend words idly. He was mentioning this 'Harry Dresden', for a reason. Wesley decided to bite.
“The only wizard in the Chicago phone book. Also the Warden for the eastern half of the United States, a private investigator and a frequent consultant to the Chicago Police Department's Special Investigations division. He attracts trouble, and creates a great deal of chaos in dealing with it. He's also annoyingly self-righteous, but quite capable, in his own way. Like myself, he is not thrilled by Wolfram and Hart's presence, and as I understand it, most of his recent work has been dealing with them or the fallout related to their arrival in the city. Odds are you'll find yourself working side by side with him from time to time, if you take the job. I don't envy your blood pressure.”
“What kind of resources are we talking here? And how much direct control do you intend to have over what I would be doing? I can't successfully operate against something like Wolfram and Hart if I have to go to you for every major decision.”
“I'm sure we can come to a reasonable agreement about oversight. As long as you do your job with a minimum of untidiness, I can give you a great deal of room for initiative and independent action. Micromanagement is rarely profitable. As for resources, money, most specifically. Angel Investigations has done impressively on a rather shoestring budget, but I can provide a great deal more. Enough to train and equip a not insignificant force. Since my joining the Accords, I have gathered a force of clued-in mercenaries more than capable of coping with the supernatural. Some of them will be made available for you to hire on, as well as hire others as you see fit. From my examination of Angel Investigations, it seems clear to me that muscle alone will not handle them, but assembling that central group is something I'll leave to you. If you need them, the skills and abilities of Ms. Gard will be available to you, and you will have enough funds to hire another consultant from Monoc Securities if you need one, for your specific operation.”
Marcone was correct. Money alone couldn't solve all one's problems, but Thucydides's observation that war was not so much a matter of men but of money had survived the ages because of its underlying veracity. And the minimal budget Angel Investigations had to work with was mostly a result of the fact that the people they helped through Cordelia's visions rarely had the ability or willingness to pay much.
Wesley had given all this and more a great deal of thought on his way here from Los Angeles. He'd been unwilling to risk his books and weapons by checking them on a plane, so he'd driven up to Chicago, and that had given him more than enough time to think. He'd already been quite sure he'd be taking the offered job when he'd arrived in McAnally's, and Marcone's answers had pretty much cliched it for him. Marcone was a criminal, but he was, in his own way, an honest and honorable man. Given the larger picture, accepting the offered job was practically a given.
“I accept. Although, what exactly would be the official organization I'd be operating through?”
Marcone shrugged. “I'll leave that up to you. Once you decide, my Lawyers can handle handle the paperwork.” The man called Hendricks produced a contract. He handed it to Marcone, who gave it to Wesley to look over, speaking as the former Watcher did so. “If you are going to work for me, you will need to provide me with a sample of your hair and blood.” He raised a hand to halt any immediate, knee-jerk objections. “In the contract – which I will sign also – it stipulates that I can only use it if you betray me or my organization, or if you need to be located immediately and conventional means cannot find you. If at some point you cease your employment, the hair and blood will be returned to you. That particular section of the contract is magically binding on my part, if that alleviates any concern on your part.”
This gave Wesley some misgivings, but he understood Marcone's objectives with it. He had no intention of betraying Marcone, though...he'd had no intention of betraying Angel when he'd first started working at Angel Investigations. Still...it gave him pause, but he nodded. Ms. Gard produced two vials and a small knife. Wesley nicked his finger and let a few drops of blood fall into one vial, before removing a strand of hair and placing it in the other. The Valkyrie nodded to Marcone and sealed the vials. Wesley finished reading the contract, and signed. Marcone followed suit.
And with that, Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, son of Roger Wyndam-Pryce, former Watcher of Faith Lehane and former employee and then leader of Angel Investigations became an employee of “Baron” Johnny Marcone, crime lord and Freeholding Lord on the Unseelie Accords.
“I do have one question.” Marcone asked, as he stood to leave. “These...Senior Partners. I understand that they are demons, but what exactly are they beyond that? Demon is not the most specific of terms. And do you have any idea on what their long term motivations are?”
“The Wolf, the Ram and the Hart are some of the oldest demons there are. These days, the commonly accepted estimation of their power – at least when all three of them are working together – is on par with Queen Mab or Queen Titania. Fortunately, like the Faerie Queens, their ability to harm or interfere with or harm mortals not bound to them is limited. They must act principally through their employees and lesser demons as their agents in the mortal sphere. As for their motivations, I can't say. They seem to be most interested in accumulating power for themselves by exploiting man's inherent inhumanity to man, and there is some indication they are working towards creating some sort of apocalypse, but that is speculation at best. In the short term, assume Wolfram and Hart is seeking to accumulate power, money and influence in the mortal and supernatural worlds for its own sake, and for local plans and operations. What specific plans they might have in Chicago, I frankly have no idea, but that is one of thing things I should like to find out, once I get started.”