- NOTE -
At some point in the recent past Red has spoken with the Guild about getting an apprentice. I don’t remember where that should go.
In the office of Mikey’s bar Vince enters Marty’s brother’s laptop and directs Connie (who is handling the physical parts of the operation). Russo is unable to decrypt the encrypted files that were sent from Troy’s computer, so VInce suggests sending them to law enforcement (who we know had already been in contact with Mikey). Connie rummages through the desk and finds a business card from Special Agent Barbara Duncan of the FBI. They email the message “This was sent from Troy, but I couldn’t open up the file. Can you?” to firstname.lastname@example.org. Connie also enjoys the new and exciting experience of playing “Minesweeper.”
With nothing more to do before the FBI building opens, they slip out of the bar through the sewers again and make their way to Gresham, where the group has a previously-arranged backup safehouse at Amy’s Beauty Salon. They see the gleaming chrome of a familiar motorcycle around the side of the building.
Marty is waiting impatiently in the safehouse. Not expecting to see Connie’s old face, he assumes that both of them must be moliated Hierarchy agents and draws his chains. Vince blocks the doorway and yells at him for just taking off and leaving them in the Tempest days earlier. Connie is furious that he had let them worry about him. Vince assures her that “worry” was the last thing on his mind, and has many strong words for Marty. Marty is dismissive and answers him right back.*
Martin is more surprised that Vince and Connie didn’t hear him shouting a warning to them over the gunfire from the approaching ship than he is surprised that neither of them heard the gunshots over the sound of themselves talking. Probably jerking each other off in Lysandra’s new tempest-hovel.
- It was a long, tense, dramatic exchange. I didn’t take very good notes, so I can’t do it justice here.
Vince detects someone approaching(?) and alerts the group, then slips out invisibly. Martin walks to the window to see what’s outside and points out a long black relic sedan pulling up outside the salon. Vince comes back in and says Basil is here for the meeting. To Martin it seems like he’s implying only he is meeting with Basil, who promptly ignores it and follows Vince outside. Vince wants to dodge Martin altogether and goes for the first door that opens.
Connie cautiously peers out the window and prepares to take off out the back door if it proves necessary. She sees Basil King, Kolya, Lysandra, and Mortimer emerge. Martin stations himself three paces behind Vince. There is a terse standoff. Basil wants to talk about the circle taking out his brother. Vince doesn’t want to share anything at this point and re-iterates that there is no “A-Team” if not everyone can be trusted. Martin, though pretty ticked, also can’t help but smirk that his solidarity move was just completely missed.
King tells the two of them that the A-Team has no place left to run and no other options left besides helping them. They walk into the salon. Connie is sitting in the center barber’s chair, attempting to look nonchalant and in control, instead of like a possum trapped in a bucket. Marty trades stink eyes with Mortimer before they follow the rest inside.
Basil King says that he and his brother Jonathan have run Portland together since the late 19th century–Jonathan handling organizational and business matters, Basil dealing with direct confrontation and physical violence. Basil died young, and when his brother finally joined him in the Shadowlands after a long life they continued their previous partnership.
His brother “is not well in the head,” Basil tells the group, and hasn’t been since he returned after a mysterious week-long absence some years ago. He speculates that it was a harrowing of some sort. Things have slowly been getting further and further out of control in Portland ever since. “That maelstrom the other day would never have happened a few years ago.” Jonathan is also obsessed with the Wednesday’s Children prophecy (“Wednesday’s Children Will Pull an Evil Tree Up by the Roots”–adding “and there’s nothing more evil than us Kings”), and has become increasingly obsessed with Connie, Marty, and Vince. Jonathan is “not the type to let things go” Basil says, and the pressure on our protagonists, already considerable, will only increase. They will have to help get rid of him somehow.
If the fate of the entire region isn’t enough to motivate them, King makes it clear that he will brook no refusal. He knows all about Connie’s life, family, her grandmother, and that thing in the 6th grade.
That’s a dirty lie. I never did that, and you can’t prove I did.
He is admittedly fuzzy on Vince’s background, but makes it clear that he knows about his living family in Portland and makes it clear that it is only a matter of time before he finds them. Martin calls Basil out every time he implies a threat toward someone’s living family.
Connie suggests that she knows of a living man who can dispose of ghosts, and has a plan involving him. “The old Italian with the sword?” Basil already knows him and says that he is very bad news. Antonio is his name, and he hates the dead. He is incredibly powerful and well defended, and values his privacy considerably. Trina is his less-skilled apprentice, and probably bears a sizable grudge against Connie now anyway. Some time ago Basil tried interfering in Antonio’s business, and quickly learned better than to cross him.
We’ll call him a “maybe.”
Returning to the matter at hand, they ask Basil about his brother’s habits. Might he be more accessible outside the Citadel? “Does he ever go out,” Connie asks. “Girlfriend? Trips to a hunting lodge?”
“How did you know about the hunting lodge?” is King’s surprising response. That is possibly even more strongly defended than the Citadel, and it will be very unlikely that they will be able to reach him there.
Hunting lodge? What the hell is this hunting lodge? That was a lucky hit.
As to Jonathan’s fetters, Basil only knows of two, but may be able to find out about more. The first one is a ruby ring owned by a long-ago King family grandma. According to family legends, she was a witch who was burned at stake. Vince is familiar with this particular item. It was part of the last heist he ever pulled, just before his untimely demise. He does not reveal this information.
The second item is a ledger book. It is currently located in the Special Collections section of the library, which is guarded by lots of legionaries, since there are a number of significant artifacts, fetters, and such there.
Jonathan hasn’t been keeping his brother in the loop lately, so he is not privy to his exact plans. Whatever they are though, they are going to be extremely big.
Basil can’t help the others, but says that he does have enough leverage to get Connie her job back, so that she can be his “inside man” in the Citadel. Only the other Archons are likely to be able to help destroy, contain, or replace Jonathan King. Connie seems to be the only one of the restless dead close to hand who has both administrative access to the Hierarchy and is somebody he doesn’t really give a shit what happens to.
Connie smiles and shakes his hand. She’s made worse deals with worse people numerous times.
When asked about the specter cult that the gang busted a little while back, King readily admits that he organized the whole thing and is preparing to do so again. It may be possible to get Jonathan down the basement nihil and feed him to a wingéd bear, but it seems unlikely at the moment.
During these proceedings, Vince makes a second swipe about Martin getting separated from the group. Martin thinks, “Real professional, Red.” Later, Basil offers Connie her old job back and Martin’s shadow points out, “So she can screw you over later.” Although Martin is pretty ticked with his shadow side right now, he can’t deny the logic, especially after the cold-shoulder he got (lousy ingrates).
The two gangsters bid their adieus and prepare to leave. Marty hands Kolya his black SotL badge, tells Connie and Vince, “You got this,” and takes off. Basil makes it clear that this is likely to have negative effects on Mikey’s long-term health (too bad Martin wasn’t there to hear it because he had previously dared Basil King to threaten someone’s family one more time). They leave the remaining two members of the gang to discuss matters with Kolya and Lysandra (how does anyone trust these two anymore?). Vince makes it clear that he wants nothing more to do with Marty, and considers him to be out of the gang. Kolya says that lately there has been a dramatic increase in all kinds of terrible things that have been happening in the background in the Necropolis of Portland:disappearances (of both the living and the dead), Nephwrack manifestations, and other dire phenomena are trending sharply upward, and the Society of the Light is prepared to work with King for the time being. Lysandra says little (nothing). Connie mentally redecorates her old office.
Vince and Connie prepare to head to the FBI building in hopes of snooping around and finding out more info regarding Ted, Troy, and whatever Agent Duncan and the Bureau know about their goings-on.
What is Vince’s Mysterious Past?
Will we ever see Marty again?
Who gets his bike if he gets whacked? (As if)
Will Connie somehow try to screw everybody over for a promotion and a better office? (and does she have some kind of weird psychosexual compulsion to make risky bargains with dangerous criminals?)