New Arrivals - A
I do not own the Dresden Files, Angel the Series, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. If you recognize it, it isn't mine. If you don't recognize it, it is mine.Tales from Oracle Securities
Chapter 2a: New ArrivalsWesley's Office, Oracle Securities
11:45 am, June 22nd, 2003
“Now, with any luck, my stay in England will be a short one. Sort out paperwork, divest myself of unwanted assets, set the family estate up for sale – that sort of thing. But once lawyers get involved, nothing goes to plan. As we all well know.” Wesley sat back down at his desk and steepled his fingers for a moment, then, rested them on the desk. “Alright, let's go over the rules for while I'm gone.” He looked over at his section heads: Mark, Lindsey and Abigail.
“Rule number one: Don't start any wars while I'm gone. If Marcone is going to bite my head off for getting him entangled in a war, I'd much rather it be when I'm actually guilty of starting a war. Are we clear? No one pulls a Harry Dresden and burns an entire building down, thereby starting a war.”
Lindsey looked half-bored, Mark had rolled his eyes, and Abigail was tossing a wooden stake from hand to hand. He'd gone over these before. Wesley sighed. “Fine, I'll spare you the rest. But for the love of the gods, keep Spike under control.”
“I used to have a little bit of a rapport with him.” Abigail said. “Then you had me lie to him. Wasn't there some other way you could have gotten him to help with Diocletian? And for that matter why didn't
you contact this Buffy, if you're not going to just make him corporeal yourself, or have someone else do it. I mean, aren't we the good guys? Good guys don't go holding other good guys prisoner!”
Wesley facepalmed. Even Lindsey had had a few qualms, though more about the fact that he hadn't
had qualms, rather than the situation itself. Mark was still of the opinion that 'vampire with a soul is still a vampire'. Which was an opinion Wesley could understand – especially these days – even if he didn't quite agree with it. So Mark had no problems with keeping Spike as a ghost.
Wesley made his facepalm look like he had just been rubbing his forehead. Then he pinched the bridge of his nose. “Because, Abigail, we're actually doing good by keeping him insubstantial and stuck here in Chicago is
a good thing. It advances the cause of good. The first thing Spike would do if he became corporeal is go to Cleveland to get back together with his lady love. Buffy Summers, who is now the leader of the what has to be at least a thousand Slayers across the world. In theory.” He still hoped Oracle Securities could get a few into their employ. Or, barring that, that Marcone could get one or two, and might loan them to the company when needed. “And the last thing this world needs is Buffy providing an example to the new Slayers that fucking a vampire is a good thing. Bad example, to say the least.”
And, Wesley had to admit to himself, it was as much the fact that he resented Buffy Summers, still, for getting him fired from the Council. Part of him, anyway. Granted, he'd quite quickly realized the myriad and sundry flaws of the Council, but still...she had broken away from the Council because they had made the very obvious and rational choice not
to help her save her undead boyfriend from the Mayor's poison, and Wesley had gotten fired for that failure compounded with his loss of Faith to evil as well.
Granted, Wesley would go on to become friends with Angel – for a while – and see him as a valuable aid to the forces of good, but still...he sighed mentally. Rationality wasn't entering into this entirely. He didn't like Miss Summers, and this was as much to spite her as anything else.
“So. Are we clear? Keep Spike on a leash.” He turned to Lindsey. “Do you know any spells to put him back in to the Amulet?”
Lindsey shook his head. “I have no idea. I could take a look, see if I can figure anything out.” In my copious amounts of free time.
The cooling off of open conflict had led to a stepping up on the legal front by Wolfram and Hart, including more resources invested into brainwashing jury members and witnesses. Which meant more work for him and his legal team to win cases quickly, identify – and arrange for the deprogramming of – the brainwashing witnesses and jurors... it was a mess, all around.
“Do it.” Wesley ordered, unaware of Lindsey's thoughts.
Lindsey nodded. No point raising the 'I have no time' argument with Wesley. The man didn't seem to sleep sometime. Which, given his...seeming half-sanity at times, was probably true, in the abstract.
“Good.” Wesley looked at the time. “And now I need to leave if I intend to catch my flight.” He grabbed the only bag – he only had two in total – that wasn't in his car and headed to the elevator, then down the stairs.Slayer Headquarters, Cleveland
2:31 pm, June 22nd, 2003
“Red said you wanted to talk to me?” Faith asked, entering the training room where Buffy was, turning a training dummy into splinters with kicks and punches – and not even using all of her strength, for that matter. According to Giles, training equipment would be a huge expenditure for them. Because 'Slayers redefine 'wear and tear' when it comes to training equipment, it would seem'.
Buffy completed a complex series of punches as Faith entered, then stopped pulling away from the dummy, taking a quick drink of water. “Yea. I wanted to talk to you about Chicago.”
“Wesley's town? I'm still not sure if he'll shot me on sight if he sees me again. Guy seemed pretty close to insane last time I talked to him.” Then she smiled at the look on Buffy's face. “Pot, kettle, black, I know.” A year ago, Faith wouldn't have gotten that phrase at all. Amazing what a person could pick up sometimes.
“I'm not saying you should go to Chicago, though since Giles wants me on site in Europe to get some things set up on England and Rome, you're kind of in charge while we're gone anyway.”
“And there's a scary thought for you.” Faith said.
“I'm sure we'll live.” Buffy smiled slightly. They had come a long way since the whole 'stole my body' episode', but they still had issues too. Mostly those had been a little papered over, but it was enough to function for now.
She shook her head. “Anyway, what I wanted to talk about was more about Wesley and this group he's running. How good are they, are they on the level, that sort of thing. From what you told me, they seem like the Initiative. That worries me.”
Faith shook her head. “I wouldn't say they're like the Initiative.” Then she shrugged. “I mean, granted, I never actually saw it in action, but from what you said, they were about experimenting on demons and things like that, capturing them, more than just killing them. Wesley wasn't at all interested in capture or experiments when we went down into Undertown and killed all those vamps.” Then she smiled. “Well, I killed most of them and Wesley and his guys helped.” No one could ever accuse Faith of being modest, in any sense of the word. “Still.” She added, “I think they're on the level. They're trying to kill bad things. Gives them points in my book. Less vampires and demons out there, killing people, the better. The only thing Initiative about them is that they use guns and a lot of the guys are ex-military.”
Buffy frowned. “I don't like guns.” She said firmly. “Its not what slaying is about. And they don't work.”
“B, I hate to break it to you, but guns really do. Not against everything, sure, but I saw first hand guns working against those vamps, and Wes was right. Most things, you shoot them enough times and they're still dead. We could use some here too – kill the demons before they get to us in a fight, and that's less casualties. Especially since we have so damn many baby Slayers now.” She saw the look on Buffy's face at that suggestion, and decided to change topic a little. She wasn't in the mood to have that conversation right now – or maybe ever. At the end of the day, she didn't feel that
strongly about using guns. “Anyway, that doesn't really matter either. Because Wes and his people aren't Slayers. They're normal people. So they're going to use what works, rather than their superpowers, which, like I said, they don't have.”
“Normal people without powers of some kind don't have any demons going out and taking the fight to vampires and demons like that.” Buffy replied.
Faith did a double take at that.”How long has Xander been helping you? Fighting the good fight. He lost his eye fighting on your side, and hell, he saved my life once. I thought you gave up on trying to get him to leave the fight. He's not going to do it, you know.”
“Xander shouldn't be fighting. Shouldn't have been fighting.” Buffy said in response. “He does not belong in the fight. He's normal. He shouldn't have been there to get his eye poked out by Caleb in the first place.”
“And yet you're not stopping him from going off to Africa to find Slayers, and knowing him, fight demons and vampires.”
“Because I can't stop him short of knocking him out and tying him up.” Then she said, more softly. “Since Anya died...” She shook her head. “I can't do that to him. It still doesn't mean he should
be going there.”
Faith just shook her head.
Buffy didn't respond to that motion. Instead, she changed the subject. “Back to this outfit Wesley is running. Or, more accurately, what it is they fight. About these 'Red Court Vampires'.”
“What about them?” Faith asked. “They're just another kind of vampire. Well, really, they're more like demons than real vampires, but that's not really the point. Hack and slash and they're dead.”
“They're a lot more organized than real vampires too. They control a lot of territory in ways real ones couldn't either. I mean, from what Giles said, they control most of the third world.” Including Africa...I've got to try to convince Xander to not go there...
“I don't think these Red Court Vampires deserve to keep getting the free ride they've been getting from Slayers for so long. There are hundreds of us now. We should do something about them.”
“B, we're just getting started finding and training all the baby slayers.” Faith pointed out. “I can't believe I'm the voice of reason here, but from what I remember of what Giles said, and what Wes said, and what I saw while I was in Chicago, these Red Court are a lot better a fighting in groups than vampires. A little weaker yea, but there's a lot of them, and you don't find them alone, most of the time. You're talking about starting a war.”
“We're already at war.” Buffy counter-pointed out. “We're always at war with vampires, demons, the forces of darkness, blah, blah, the whole Watcher speech.”Faith smiled just a little at that. “Besides,” Buffy continued, “I wasn't thinking go out and start attacking their strong-holds and everything. I mean, that crossed my mind, but I did learn a few things from last year, and stuff Giles has been trying to tell me occasionally sinks in.” Rarely could Buffy effectively pull off self-deprecating, this time, she managed it to a 'T'. Or perhaps an 'S'.
“No.” She kept going. “I was actually thinking you could go to Chicago and talk to this guy Giles mentioned to me last night when I was asking more about this 'White Council'. Giles never devoted that much study to the other courts, he said, so he suggested talking to other people. Some group called the Ventori Umbrorum, another called the Brotherhood of St. Giles,”
“Saint Giles?” Faith cracked a smile, then tried to fight back laughter, and nearly collapsed, laughing for a minute and change. “They're real?”
“He says they are. And Saint Giles is a real Saint too. Patron of a lot of different things, including lepers and outcasts. But those two groups are allies of the White Council, a sort of Witch and Wizard government-y thing. And until pretty recently, the White Council and the Red Court of Vampires was at war. They signed some kind of cease-fire, or peace, or something. Giles didn't know the details offhand. The Council's Warden, or official guy, for this part of the United States is based in Chicago. His name is Harry Dresden. He's even in the Chicago phone book, under Wizard.”
Faith laughed again, just a little. “What happened to secret identity?”
“Who is actually going to believe he's a real wizard?” Buffy pointed out. “Chicago isn't Sunnydale, but I know how far people are willing to go to pretend that all the supernatural stuff isn't real. They probably think its a joke, most of them.”
Faith shrugged. “I guess. So you want me to go to Chicago and talk to him? Get the info on the Red Court?”
“And this White Court, and anything else you can find out. The White Council as well. Maybe see if we can get his help, or something. Could always have more help.”
Faith shrugged. “What the hell. Fine.” Probably stop by, say hi to Abigail too.
The woman had insisted on being called 'Abigail', nothing shorter or easier to say. Since calling her 'A', didn't work, and she hadn't responded to being called 'Abby', Faith had gone along with it. Get her phone number. Didn't get it then.
She had been rather busy being unconscious and severely injured before she eventually left. Slipped her mind. Besides, it might be useful to see if any of her old friends when she had been on the Cleveland Hellmouth were still around, maybe Harry Dresden's Residence, Chicago
3:15 pm, June 22nd, 2003
Harry looked up as he heard the knock on his door.
“Mr. Dresden?” The female – and unfamiliar – voice asked on the other side of the door. “Are you in?” Harry put down the book he'd been reading went over to the door. He checked to make sure he was still wearing his shield bracelet – he rarely took it off these days – and opened the door. He did not lower the wards, however.
The woman on the the other side of the door had brown hair, and the clothes she wore was the epitome of the high powered, professional business woman.
“Hello Mr. Dresden.” She said once the door was open. “My name is Lilah Morgan.” She produced a business card and handed it to him. The embossed red W&H dominating the card made it pretty obvious who she was with. But she said so anyway, “I'm with Wolfram and Hart Chicago. The CEO actually. Can I come in?”
Harry raised an eyebrow, handing back the card to her. “I don't know. Can you?” He stepped aside, a clear non-verbal invitation. He still hadn't lowered the wards, though.
Lilah chuckled slightly. “Do you mean I can walk over a threshold without an invitation? Yes, I can.” She answered. “Can I walk past the extremely formidable wards you put up after an army of Kemmlerian zombies beat your door down last October? No.” She saw the look on his face at that, and smiled. “I'm with Wolfram and Hart. Its our job to know everything. Get used to it.”
“Why should I just let you past the wards? We're hardly on the same team, and you lead the local branch of Hell Incorporated.”
“I don't have anything to do with running the various Hell Dimensions Wolfram and Hart owns.” Lilah said with a smile. “Except when I arrange for people to be transferred to the third-world ones. Wolfram and Hart is just the legal team for Hell Incorporated.” She extended his metaphor, smiling just a little longer before adopting a more serious expression. “I'm not here to be a threat to you. If I wanted you dead, I wouldn't come in person. I'm good at many things, but they do not include killing someone of your power all by my lonesome. If I wanted you dead, I'd kill you by blowing this building up, or maybe using a microwave emitter on a satellite to cook you from orbit. But starting a war with the White Council is against company policy.”
Despite himself, Harry smiled a little at the mention of cooking him from orbit. “Reminds me of when I killed a Black Court vampire by dropping a frozen turkey on him from a plane.”
“Sounds like quite the story. Can I come in?”
“We can have the discussion fine here. What did you want?”
“A mutually profitable business arrangement.”
“I won't come to work for you.”
“I didn't think you would.” Lilah replied. “I mean, you said no to Marcone, and while Marcone may be many things, most of them 'negative', but as evil as we are? Not in a thousand years.”
“So then what is it you want to offer me?”
“Susan Rodriguez.” Lilah replied softly.
Harry didn't need to hear any more. He knew full well what she was offering. Part of him, just as it had when Lash had offered, told him to throw everything to the wind and take her offer, whatever it....Harry forced himself under control. “Mention her to me again, Miss Morgan.” Harry said stiffly, “And I may just start another war.” He slammed the door in her face.Next Time, on Tales from Oracle Securities: Harry goes to Cleveland to talk to a 'Willow Rosenberg' at the same time that Faith arrives in Chicago – and runs into Karrin Murphy. And she still has that 'escaped from prison' thing going for her....Author's Note:
While I do have the next few chapters sketched out, I am still taking requests for characters/plot points (original, Dresdenverse, Buffyverse and Angelverse) you'd like to see more of in Tales from Oracle Securities.