A Day In The Lilah
Absolutely not mine. End of story. Tales From Oracle Securities
Chapter 7: A Day In The LilahConference Room, Wolfram And Hart Chicago
12:11 pm, July 15th, 2003
“There is still no indication as to what caused the seer's heads to explode. Fortunately, there have been no further incidents, but neither has any intelligence been developed as to the reason. If something major has happened in the lower realms, it is evading all of Wolfram and Hart's efforts to determine what it is. And something has appeared to spook the Senior Partners as well. Reports from all the offices on Earth and in the other dimensions that the White Rooms have all gone silent. The entire firm is flying blind.”
“How can a being or event powerful enough to scare the Senior Partners and blow the tops off our seers - and its not as if we don't take precautions – stay under the radar this long? Power of that kind usually doesn't come with subtlety attached.”
“That would be unclear.” The same man answered Denna. “And who or whatever it is has left no trace in prophecy or mystic texts. This thing has somehow managed to happen or rise...or whatever, completely unnoticed.”
“Not completely.” Another lawyer interjected. “The Senior Council of the White Council seems to have figured out that something is up. They've locked themselves in their headquarters in Edinburgh and have been deliberating about something. Its extremely unlikely that whatever it is that has spooked them is different than whatever it is that has caused us so many problems.”
“Is there any indication that the Watchers, or Angel and his band of merry men know about this?” Lilah asked, speaking for the first time all meeting.
“None.” He shook his head, then double-checked his notes. “That's all I've got.”
Lilah nodded. “What about the other offices? What is the news from them?”
“Well, the Los Angeles Branch has officially dropped from leading profitability to somewhere in the middle of the pack. Marcus Hamilton has ordered a complete review of the branch. The building has been locked down while he performs the review. I believe he said something about bowling in the last communication. There's not much else that's notable. The Cleveland offices experienced a drive-by-Molotov-cocktailing, of all things. The police have no suspects, but the Slayers have claimed credit for it in a phone call to the CEO of the branch.”
“Oracle Securities? What are they up to now?” Denna asked.
“Nothing out of the ordinary. Except for the fact that Wyndam-Pryce just got on a plane for San Francisco this morning. And Faith Lehane took off for the same city from Cleveland last night.”
“What the hell are they doing heading to San Francisco? What would be there to attract them?”
“I have no idea.” The man answered Denna's question.
“Its obvious. Lucien Drake. Wesley has a connection to the man through Jacinta, and he has no doubt recruited Faith to help him take the man and his larger organization down.” Lilah said, fingers steepled.
“Why Faith? All indications are that he hates her, and would kill her if doing so wouldn't unduly harm the cause, and bring the wrath of the Slayers down on him.”
“Oh, he hates her. Its exactly why he'd bring her with him. She's expendable. Whatever Wesley has planned, the risk is high, and he'd clearly rather it be Faith that dies than one of his people.” She looked at the other Lawyers. “What? You don't sleep with a man for months without getting a good look inside his head, how he thinks.”Lilah's Office, Wolfram and Hart Chicago
1:07 pm, July 15th, 2003
Lilah had just closed her email when the screen on her computer went completely white, with no trace of the desktop of her mouse. How much money do we pay for state of the art computers again?
Muttering some creative curses in Old Traevosian, she picked up her phone and punched up the number for IT. After a few moments.
“IT main desk, how can I direct your-”
“This is Lilah Morgan, the CEO. Send someone up here to see to it that my computer-” Her computer suddenly flashed two words in large, bold black letters.
Then the computer's screen returned to normal. “Actually, cancel that. It seems to be working again.” She hung up the phone as she stood up. She didn't stop to grab anything as she headed for her personal elevator, quickly entering in the combination for the White Room, a well-practiced habit by this point.
“They spend weeks saying absolutely nothing, and now all they can do is tell me to go to the White Room? A little bit more information that that would be useful!” Lilah stepped out into the empty expanse of white as the doors opened. This time, she wasn't greeted by a white room generated clone of herself. This time, the conduit...was a far more literal conduit.
A swirling vortex of red energy, almost like a small – very small – whirlpool, floated horizontally four feet off the ground.
“Lilah Morgan, CEO of the Wolfram and Hart Chicago Branch. Former Head of Special Projects, Chicago Branch. Former Head of Special Projects, Los Angeles Branch. Former Co-Head of Special Projects, Los Angeles Branch. Former Team Member, Special Projects, Los Angeles Branch.”
“Is there any reason you needed to go though my resume like that?” Lilah asked, once the voice emanating from the Vortex paused. “I assume that there is a reason as to why the White Room is functioning again?”
“It will only remain functioning for a short time.” The voice replied. “The Senior Partners have found some small amount of information about the incident. It is not something new, it is something old. Whatever it is will soon hollow out a form and occupy it. And there is name – not the name of the thing itself, but the name of someone related to the events directly. Cowl.”
“Think you could whistle up a little more vague for me? That's nothing to work on. And Cowl isn't a name, its a type of clothing.”
“There is no more to tell you. You will be alerted when more has been discovered. You will do all you can to discover more with the resources at your disposal. All Branch heads are being given this same information. In order to properly monitor and control the situation, we shall dispatch overseers to all branches.”
need a babysitter.”
“Failure to accept and acknowledge the ultimate authority of the Child of the Senior Partners to be dispatched to your branch will result in the termination of the lacking party's contract and employment with the firm.
“Please.” She scoffed. Why not just say that they'll kill me? Save themselves a little bit of time.
Rolling her eyes, she nodded. “Fine. I accept the presence and authority off the Child in all matters relating to this incident.”
“That was not what was said as to what you must do.”
“True.” Lilah admitted. “But if what you really intended was to have someone else run this branch in all aspects, you'd have simply killed me and gotten on with it.” She looked directly at the vortex, wishing it had eyes so she would stare it down.
The vortex flickered a moment, then started to grow. Lilah stepped back a pace, to give it room as it turned into a portal large enough for a creature the size of a human to step through. A second later, such a creature did step through. Lilah took another step back, feeling genuine shock at what she saw.
The Child of the Senior Partners...it was like looking in a twisted, distorted mirror. It wasn't that it looked like her. That she would have been able to handle, having had experience with the Conduit deciding to look like her most of the time.
No. The Child looked like her...if her hair was dyed a reddish blonde, and if her eyes had been brilliant, almost glowing red.
“What the hell!?” Lilah demanded. For the first time in years, not only was she fazed, but also showing that reaction openly. Lilah looked over her 'clone' a moment, mind racing. Rather than the sharp, all-business pantsuit she was that she herself was wearing, her 'red-headed step-clone' wore a long, full-length black dress, sleeveless. It clung to all the right places to be sexy, but not overtly revealing. In addition, she wore elbow-length blood red gloves that looked molded on as a second layer of skin, so close fitting were they.
“Hello Lilah.” The woman replied, cocking her head just slightly in a very familiar pose. Familiar because Lilah did that exact pose herself, fairly often. “I am Iris Vanderan.”
“Better than mini-me.” Lilah replied, managing to get herself under control. “So, you're the Child of the Senior Partners being assigned to me. I don't know if I should be flattered, angry or disturbed that they assigned me one that looks so much like me. Nice of them to do the hair and eyes though.”
“I don't just look a lot like you, Lilah. I think a lot like you. You possess...insights and perspectives that have brought you this far in the firm. Clearly, you are doing something right, and the Senior Partners do not want to disturb that more than is absolutely necessary.”
“The best way to do that would be to not have a babysitter. You do realize that, Junior?”
Iris nodded. “I would, in the abstract, have to agree. But I serve the Senior Partners, with a fidelity that you cannot match. In this matter, they want someone they can communicate with directly on the ground, directing their efforts.”
“How can something even they can't seem to find that much information on terrify them that much?”
“The Senior Partners didn't survive all the way from their days in the Primordium Age as relative nonentities without developing a finely tuned sense of caution and self-preservation.”
“Cowardice. This, I know.” Lilah smirked.
“Essentially, yes, Cowardice. But stupid bravery gives no one any bonus points, as you are well aware.”
“I wasn't condemning it.” Lilah countered Iris's words. “Just pointing it out.”
“The Senior Partners know that the winds are changing and that something is brewing. They don't want to be here when it all boils over, to mix my metaphors more than once. They don't have to be heavy on the details for their sense of self-preservation to kick in.” Iris shrugged. “We go with what we have.
Lilah scoffed again. “Which is nothing.” Lilah watched as Iris nodded in agreement, then the lawyer looked back towards the elevator entrance. “I suppose we return to the building now?”
“Indeed.” Iris nodded. “The White Room will be once more closed off, as soon as we've taken our leave from it.”
“And its going to be like this at all the offices? Even the ones in the deepest hell dimensions?”
“Even.” Iris replied. “Like I said, caution and self-preservation.” She stepped into the elevator before Lilah, holding the door open. The trip back to her office was over in seconds. Denna was waiting inside, a file folder in one hand, lightly tapping a pen against it. Her eyes widened and she looked from Lilah to Iris, then back again.
“Don't say anything.” Lilah and Iris said in unison. Then they looked at eachother in annoyed askance.
“I wasn't planning on it.” Denna protested cooly.
“Bullshit.” Lilah replied. “Denna, this is Iris Vanderan, a Child of the Senior Partners and our new babysitter while we sort out whatever it was that blew the heads off our seers and has the Senior Partners cowering under their beds like three-year-old children. Iris, this is Denna Frost, Head of Special Projects here at Wolfram and Hart Chicago.”
“I know.” Iris replied. “I've read her file.”