Tuesday 13th August 10:48
In a Taxi
Bran, Norm, Miyo
In your previous interactions, Rachel struck you as business-like and professional, this is more of the same. But now she's moved from "workaday, everything as normal" to "command centre" mode. She's talking fast and a little less formally than previous
"Bran, thank you for this. We have a situation and simply not enough warm bodies to be everywhere we need to. As I say, we will remember this. But that is by the by. Shortly after you left we got a call from a girl we know saying that she was "under attack". She's a bit melodramatic but Grandfather won't let his people suffer, so we sent my great uncle over to take a look. Some sort of metal creature had emerged from the sewers, the toilet to be precise, and had her trapped. Vaguely snakelike, coiled round her. Demanding in a recorded voice to know why she was "attacking my baby" Did I, I don't recall, use the term "occult underground" to you?"
Bran blinks. This is very, very strange, but then, so's a fish telling him he's under a spell. "I don't believe so, no. Is that like the Metro for freaks?"
She laughs, then abruptly sobers. "Nice guess, and not as far wrong as anyone would like. But no. Its an informal term for those of us, errrr, in the know? Do you understand what I mean? My Grandfather's court, Tannen, Patveer. You to some extent. Nothing really in common, very disparate in fact, other than the knowledge that...well, even precisely what knowledge they have varies wildly. I realise I'm putting this badly but I hope you can understand to which people I'm referring."
"Yes, I think so. People who have a connection to all this—" He waves a hand in the cab, nearly getting Miyo in the nose. "—all this shite like what's happened to me today. And 'underground' implies secrecy, like an underground movement?"
"Precisely. There are organisations, one organisation in particular, who enforce that secrecy. And there-in lies a part of the problem, though I am perhaps getting a bit ahead of myself. We can't know for sure that we know all of the members in Newcastle. What we do know is that the majority of those we are aware of and that don't bear my Grandfather some ill well or animosity have contacted us within the last twenty minutes to say something very similar has happened to them. Some, perhaps most, have dealt with it. You are on your way to one of the people who hasn't contacted us to...to assess the situation and take what action you see necessary"
"You're not going to send us in blind as that, are you? Who is this person and what do you know?"
"Of course not, sorry. I was making some notes. It is a little hectic here. Oh, before I continue. Here has moved, we are en route to another of my Grandfather's pubs. The Castle - I'll text you the postcode. Now, where was I? Oh yes. This girl. Her name is Helen McClean, but she prefers to be referred to as...one moment...here we go. As Raven Moonshadow. Which perhaps tells you all you need to know about her. But to fill in the gaps, she has some skill - likely natural - at controlling demons and runs something between a cult and a social club from a student house. Possessions of willing subjects along for the ride. You know the kind of thing. Actually, its possible you don't. Some people enjoy the loss of control that comes with a demonic possession, demons enjoy being back, physically, in the world. She acts as an intermediary, each side doing her rather trivial favours. Does that make any degree of sense? I realise there's a lot of information there so please feel free to ask for clarification."
"I've seen this on the telly, haven't I? But I'll try not to make assumptions based on that… I've played enough D&D to know that the witch lays traps around her house. Are we in fact going to have to break through this Raven Moonshadow's own protections to exfiltrate her?" Bran actually relishes saying the word "exfiltrate" in its correct context. This is all mad as a thousand dancing hatters, he's lost track of how many impossible things he's been asked to believe today, but it appears he's going to be in a bit of a scrap soon and that always clarifies things, peels away the accidents and leaves the essence. And if he's fighting talking robot snakes he won't have time to think about Mam and Da…
"I can't say no definitively, but I doubt it. Given the nature of her...her organisation, I think it is a little more informal than that. Lair is how I picture it - and I stress I am simply picturing it, I've never been there - but lair in the sense of teenage, or early twenties technically, layabouts rather than gingerbread houses. She herself may have some protections but I'm once again not entirely certain. I only met the girl once and have no strong desire to do so again. No, my hope is your exfiltration..." you don't get the sense its a word she uses often, she's just matching your word usage. Again, probably read it in a book on people skills "...will be relatively routine. Go in, tell her about the problem, bring her back here. The issue I predict is if the invader has reached her before you do. But this is supposition."
"Right. Get in, disentangle her from any evil robot snakes, get out, get to the Castle Pub. Do not attract attention. That a correct summary?"
"Broadly. The attention is, I cannot stress this enough, key. Which brings me to the second point. Robot snakes, for want of a better term, are obviously not something one sees every day. They attract attention. This group I mentioned earlier, the Sleepers. They are usually quite hands off, they act as something of a silencer of last resort. Can we deal with this internally, there will be no issues. If it becomes apparent we can't keep this quiet and under control ourselves then there will be...ramifications. The threat of the sleepers is what has made this so easy so far, while not everyone accepts Grandfather's rule everyone accepts that it is in everyone's best interests that this is dealt with quietly."
"Understood. Everything absolutely on the down-low." Bran privately determines that if the only way to rescue this Raven Moonshadow is to drag her out the front door with a snake clinging to her shouting "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO MY BABY" in stentorian tones, he's going to do that and hang the consequences. But if there's any other way, he'll keep it quiet.
"Precisely. Now. Had you any thoughts on what we can do for you in return? That is not to say you must decide this instant, but as you can imagine the more notice we have the more successful we can be."
"Each of us who assists will have a request, understood? My request is—" He wants to say, "tell me all about this magic shite," but that's the heat of the moment speaking. Really there's something more important. "My request is, network with other royalty or whatever and find out where my parents are, what's happened to them. I have a phone number for Da that you can start with. Now I expect that's a matter of picking up the phone and making a few calls, so unless it turns out there's heavy stuff in the way I'll have another request down the line, right?"
There's silence down the line for a moment. Or, you realise, not quite silence. Muffled voices - unmuffled enough to be identified as voices, muffled enough for the words to be incoherent. Eventually: "Agreed. Not every city has a True King, some cities have more than one. We do not know them all, or even the majority. As such, I am removing the phrase "network with other royalty" from your request, as I feel it would be overly limiting. "Use what contacts you have" is my suggested replacement, but this is not a contract signed in blood. I believe we both have the same understanding of what you want."
"Yeah, there's an 'or whatever' in there that encompasses the same scope. I think we do have an understanding. Let me brief the others and they can think about what they want, right? Call you back."
"I'll look forwards to it. A pleasure talking to you once again and I hope you find a resolution to your problem."
"Thank you, and let's all hope we can find a resolution to yours."
Tuesday 13th August 10:45
Pavement Outside Unit 17, Ferguson Street
"The Oh" He gestures again. "The sign was missing it. Woman I know took it one night...oh." He obviously suddenly realises something. "Sorry. Right. I figured you'd noticed, or knew, or...whatever. There used to be a building there" He gives a sad smile.
"'s gone now though, and noone remembers it. I asked in the pet place," he nods down the road. "They don't remember it and they don't remember me. You'll forget me any moment now, anyway. So it doesn't really matter what I say."
He turns with a sigh and starts walking heavily back to his car.
"I thought getting fucked up might give some information. But all it did was get me fucked up." He sniffs again, wipes at his nose. "Can't drive. Cops won't give a shit, they'll forget me just like you have. But still don't want to fuck the car up. Expensive. So I'm just gonna sit here, missing John and the missing building." He's not even remotely talking to you anymore, just himself. "News at Nine."