New Arrivals - B
Ah do not own Dresden Files, Angel the Series, or Buffy the Vampire SlayerAuthor's Note:
Slight delay, and I didn't get into everything I wanted to get into with this chapter, but I figured the best bet was to put up what I could get and worry about writers block later.Tales From Oracle Securities
Chapter 2b: New Arrivals IISlayer Headquarters, Cleveland
11:23 am, June 24th, 2003
Sometimes Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden enjoyed being a Warden. Or, at least, he sometimes enjoyed certain aspects of the job. The extra paycheck was nice, and having the Wardens not looking at him in askance every five seconds was a definite perk. Except for Donald Morgan, but that guy would probably never stop distrusting Harry anyway.
But, the fact of the matter was that all too often – most of the time, really, if he was perfectly honest – Harry hated his job. Well, large parts of it, and severely disliked the rest. Having spent most of his adult life on the wrong side of the Wardens – unjustly, but that was neither here nor there – wearing the grey cloak never sat well with him. It probably never would, at that, even with all the time he'd theoretically have to live, being a wizard.Not that I'm likely to actually be able to live to a ripe old age, with my luck.
He thought to himself wryly. Then, well, hell's bells Harry. Now you've gone and jinxed yourself.
And today, one of the parts of his job as Warden he was hating was the assignment Captain Luccio had given him yesterday.
Wizards of the White Council tended to avoid the mystic convergences/dimensional weak points known as Hellmouths like the plague. That was the first thing that was bothering him. The dark energies of the place were setting him on edge – it wasn't the darkness, in of itself that was bothering him, but the sheer unnaturalness of the place, rather.
One would think, with the ease that Hellmouths could be used to conduct various dark rituals and even bring about apocalypses, the White Council would keep a closer eye on the Hellmouths. But the reality of the situation, apart from the tendency for Hellmouths to make Warlocks out of even the most upstanding wizards if they stayed on one for a long period of time, was that it was a lot harder to end the world, when you got right down to it, than one might think. For starters, various forces that liked the world perfectly intact, thank you very much, had spent a great deal of time and energy making sure that the magical rituals that could
end the world were as close to lost and impossible to find as they could make them. Then, of course, false rituals often got spread around. Much like the White Council's efforts to spread fake books on how to do sponsored magic properly.
Indeed, the White Council was one of those forces.
Another factor, of course, was that for every demon, vampire or mad cultist that got it into his head to destroy the world – and then actually started acting on it – there was another one right around the corner who was trying to stop them – because they, for one reason or another, didn't want the world to end. And of course, there were groups like Wolfram and Hart, which apparently didn't like competition in the Apocalypse department.
But also, the Watchers Council had always kept a close eye on the Hellmouths, and their Slayer wasn't vulnerable to the corruption a Hellmouth could expose a wizard to. Between them, the Council and the Slayer had been able to mostly keep a lid on Hellmouth activity. There'd been a few scares, and according to Luccio, a few times in the past, the Council had had to get involved directly on a Hellmouth – go in quick, deal with the problem, and then leave just as quickly.
Wardens also didn't need to go to Hellmouths to deal with Warlocks either. Any warlock in the knew avoided Hellmouths – the power was very real, but so too was the risk. Those warlocks that were crazy enough to go to Hellmouths, or didn't know how much a problem they were didn't really have to worry about the Council coming to mess with them, but they usually died at the hands of one or or another of the many inhabitants of a Hellmouth, given the kinds of 'natives' they attracted.
But, for once, it seemed, a bloody death hadn't been the fate of this particular young woman. He had been sent here to Cleveland to assess a woman who, in terms of power, almost certainly qualified as a full wizard, but she had also grown up entirely on a Hellmouth – the late, unlamented Sunnydale Hellmouth actually – and was almost entirely self-taught, as far as anyone could tell.
A dangerous combination.
She might have continued to evade the notice of the White Council, since she had relocated to yet another Hellmouth – the only other one in the Western Hemisphere – if not for the fact that she was associated with the now hundreds – at least – of Slayers across the world. And quite possibly she was responsible for the fact that there were so many Slayers now, according to some of the rumors.
Of course, the very thing that drew her to the Council's attention would also make dealing with her much harder. In terms of the Laws of Magic, Slayers counted as human, and Harry doubted, if Willow Rosenberg turned out to be a Warlock, that the Slayers would just stand there when the Council's justice was dispensed to her. Punishing her would be, if it was necessary, a massive undertaking. Risking 'war' with an organization the Council really didn't want to go to war with, for that matter.
Harry knocked on the front door of the innocuous looking building that now served as 'Slayer Headquarters' and was also apparently Willow Rosenberg's address.
He was forced to wait for a few minutes, standing out there, feeling just a little bit stupid, before finally the door opened.
“Who are you, and what do you want?” The speaker was a young African-American girl – no, more a teenager – who had a noticeable aura of slight menace about her. Nothing overtly threatening. The girl looked him over once before she actually spoke. Probably one of the many Slayers
, Harry thought to himself.
“I'm here to see Willow Rosenberg.”
“But does Willow want or need to see you?” The girl retorted. “Who are you.”
“I'm Gandalf.” Harry quipped.
“Gandalf wore white. And even when he wore grey, it was a lighter shade than what you have on.” Harry was wearing the official grey robes of a Warden. Another annoying part of the job. “And,” The British-accented girl, also a teenager, who stepped into Harry's field of vision continued, “he had a beard.”
“Alright, you got me.” Harry conceded, faking defeat in his tone for a second. His urge to be a wise-ass always came up at the worst times. “I'm not Gandalf. I'm Harry Dresden. Warden of the White Council.”
“Wait there.” The black girl said. She half-turned towards the other girl. “Go ask Willow what she wants us to do with this guy.”
The girl nodded, the went out of Harry's line of sight. Forced to wait for several more minutes, Harry almost felt like twiddling his thumbs just to pass the time, but his burnt hand was still not quite ready for something involving that much fine motion.
Finally, the British-accented girl came back down. “Willow will see you. But she says you'll have to leave your blasting rod and staff down here.”
“You want me to go in completely disarmed?” Harry asked. Definitely not good.
“It's that or you aren't going in at all.” The English girl said.
It only took Harry a minute to finally decide that he needed to comply. He nodded. “Fine.”
The black girl stepped aside, but pointedly didn't invite him in verbally. Not that it mattered – no threshold for this part of the building – but presumably some kind of force of habit, since she was a Slayer. He leaned his staff against the wall, then did the same with his blasting rod. He saw stairs, and pointed at them. “I go up those?”
The Slayers nodded. “Third door on your left.” Harry went up the stairs and opened the aforementioned door.
A young woman with short red hair, wearing jeans and a T-shirt was waiting for him inside. She'd set up two folding chairs, and was sitting in one of them. “So you're the wizard cop?” Willow asked.
“That would be me.” Harry agreed. “Primarily I'm here to test you, determine if you are powerful enough to be a member of the White Council-”
“I'm not interested.” Willow interrupted. “I'm powerful enough, but I don't want to be a member of the White Council. From what Giles told me about you, I want nothing to do with that. Plus, you guys signed those Unseelie Accords. He called them the Geneva Conventions of the Supernatural world.”
“Not that accurate, when you get right down to it, but it works as an analogy.” Harry nodded.
“The Slayers haven't signed, and I'm with them. I'm not going to let my actions be limited by its strictures, so that I can't help my friends fight demons and monsters and all that.”
Harry understood where she was coming from. “I'm not sure how the rest of the Council will take that.” Then he shrugged. “Not my problem, unless they have me come back to talk to you again. The other thing is to make sure you're not a warlock and that you're aware of the laws of magic-”
“Don't kill people, don't transform people, don't mess with people's minds, don't read people's minds, don't create zombies, don't travel through time, and don't mess with stuff from beyond the 'outer gates'. Did I miss one?”
“I get the impression you don't want me around.” Harry said. He tried to catch her eyes for a soul-gaze. Willow Rosenberg avoided his gaze.
“No, I won't soulgaze you. I like my privacy.”
“I need to determine if you've broken any of the laws of magic.”
“And what will you do if I have?” Willow asked softly. “There are at least thirty Slayers in this building at any given time, you can't use magic to kill me or any others of them, and you left your staff and blasting rod behind. And if you come after me, my friends will go after you guys. And those friends include hundreds of Slayers among their friends.”
Harry chuckled. “You prepared.”
“Ever since Giles told us about you guys, I've been expecting a visit.”
“Watcher.” Willow said. “He was Buffy's watcher when she went to Sunnydale, and now he's 'head watcher'. He and Buffy run the – well, we're not sure what we're calling ourselves yet, to be honest. Watchers Council doesn't seem fitting, since most of the Watchers are dead and Slayers massively outnumber the number of Watchers, but the supernatural world knows the name 'Watchers Council'.”
“Ah.” Harry looked at her. “Have you broken any of the laws of magic?”
Again, she avoided meeting his eyes. “I have never broken one of the laws of magic.” Willow knew she was lying through her teeth. And Dresden can probably guess that I am, somewhat....
She'd raised the dead, messed with people's memories and killed with magic. The temple of Proxpersa wasn't technically a violation....but the Wardens would probably label 'trying to destroy the world' as 'killing with magic'. I'm not going to just let them execute me...
Willow had the magic under control. In part because she was never going to do as much with it as she had before. And she wasn't going to die and force her friends to do without her help...
“If you want, you can hang-around for a while and watch me in action. I know you guys tend to avoid Hellmouths-”
“Whereas you grew up on one and have since moved to another.” Harry pointed out.
“And I'm still sane. Being born on one is probably the reason that I haven't gone insane like the people you guys send to Hellmouths. The reason I wasn't killed by one of the many natives was because I was lucky enough to have the Slayer as my best friend. Some kind of Hellmouth vaccine, or something.” She made a small laugh somewhere between a giggle and a chuckle.
Harry considered. It might be the best option available to him...though he couldn't stick around on the Hellmouth for long, a week or so shouldn't do that much harm. The Wardens that had been stationed on Hellmouths before took months, sometimes years before they went insane...
“Alright. Fine.”Harry Dresden's Apartment, Chicago
12:31 pm, June 24th, 2003
“Great.” Faith muttered to herself, after knocking on Harry Dresden's door for the second time in as many minutes. “I come all the way to Chicago to talk to Harry Dresden, and he's not in his office, or even his home.”
She decided to go wait outside the door just a little bit longer, then knock on the door after a few minutes. To pass the time, she took one of her stakes out of a pocket of her coat and tossed it about a foot into the air, then caught it. She repeated the motion for a short while, then knocked on the door again, tucking the weapon back into her coat. She waited.
Faith sighed violently, and pulled out her cell-phone. She'd call a cab, get a room at an expensive hotel, rack up an expense account, and pay for it all on the company credit car. Probably stop by Oracle Securities and say hi to Abigail, get her number. Bother Wes too, while she was at it.
“Who are you?” Faith turned at the sound of the female voice, and saw the speaker standing in front of a car that hadn't been there five minutes ago. She was short and blonde, and made Faith think of what an older Buffy might look like...though actually, Buffy might even be taller than this woman. Buffy? Taller than someone? Now there's a strange concept.
“I'd ask you the same question.” Faith turned it back around on her. “If you're here to see Dresden,” She added, “He isn't here.”
“He isn't? Then where is he?” Karrin Murphy knew she had never met this young woman before...at least she was pretty sure she hadn't, but something about her seemed familiar...she just couldn't place it.
Faith shrugged. “I have no idea. I came up to Chicago to talk to him, and he wasn't in his office, and then I came here, and he's not here either.” She looked at the new arrival pointedly. “Look, one of us is going to have to break down and say who we are, or we're going to be standing here all day. And neither of us are equipped for a pissing contest. I'm Faith.”
That name....and then it hit her. Her face had been all over the news a while back, after she'd broken out of some prison out in California... it had stuck in her head because her rap sheet had been quite impressive for how young she had been when she'd actually been imprisoned...
Karrin Murphy grabbed her badge and gun, and held them both up, pointing the gun at Faith. “Faith Lehane, you're under arrest. Get down on your knees and put you hands on your head.”Shit.