Interior – Mac's Bar
Ambient sounds: People talking quietly, glasses clinking occasional footsteps. Ceiling fans, the crackling of a woodstve.
Sound comes up, then a door opens. A pair of footsteps come down stairs. The ambient noise goes still as if everyone has stopped what they are doing. Maybe someone clears their throat or shuffles.
Harry: Ah, Hey. Evening Mac.
Mac: grunts in warning
Harry: What? Oh ah, (slowly as if reading it off a sign) A Proud member of the United Baronies incorporated. (back to his normal tone and slightly confused) Huh last time I was in here that was an accords sign.
Mac: growling problem?
Harry: No, no. I'm not here to cause trouble.
Slowly the sounds of the bar return.
Mac: grunts in affirmative. Beer?
Harry: (relieved) God yes.
The clunk of a bottle on the bar, the sounds of a bottle opening. Chairs getting pushed back. Footsteps and a door opening and closing. The volume level of the background drops. Clearing of throats, more chairs moving.
Random person: (respecfully) Mac.
The door opening and closing a few more times, and by the time it's done the background sounds of people are gone again. The ceiling fans and wood stove remain.
The clink of a glass.
Harry: Ah, sorry for scaring away all your customers.
Mac: (resigned, shrugging) Cloak, fairy magic.
Harry: (apologetic) Yeah well... clears his throat... look I don't want to make trouble for you so...
In the middle of Harry speaking the door opens again and a woman walks in talking over him without realizing it.
Justine: Mac dear, sorry this is so last minute but could you set up a private table for us? Oh...
Susan: (coming in behind her) looks like that wont be necessary. And who is this handsome stranger?
Harry: (surprised) Justine, Susan!
Justine: I'm sorry, have we met?
Susan: I think I'd remember a presence like that Jojo.
Harry: (baffled/ in awe) Jojo?
Justine: Yes well, if you wouldn't mind Mr....
Harry: Oh ah, Harry Dresden.
Justine: Well Mr. Dresden, I'm sorry to interrupt your dinner but This establishment is now closed for a private party.
Harry: Huh, and here I thought this place was run by Marcone. (Mac grumbles, Justine and Susan take a few steps,) Hold on, maybe I can help.
Justine: I doubt that, now if you would see yourself out, we have some business to discuss.
A chair moves, Mac clears his throat.
Harry: Susan please.
Susan: Sorry Mr. Dresden.
Harry hesitates, then sighs.
Harry: alright, (he hesitates again) I hope, ah, have a good evening.
More chairs moving, more footsteps, then over the footsteps, a door opening.
Thomas: (as he's entering) Sorry I'm late, I got caught up with....
An otherworldly sound. Something to represent a soulgaze, I'll let you figure something out.
At the same time:
Thomas: Empty Night!
Harry: Hells Bells!
Harry recovers first while Thomas is still groaning and grumbling curses.
Harry: Sorry, I... I didn't expect that. Stars and stones, I didn't think it was possible.
Justine: Thomas! (worried) running footsteps and comforting sounds.
Susan:(awe and curiosity) What was that?
Thomas: (winded but recovering) I'm alright Justine, but I'd rather like to know that myself.
Harry takes a slow breath.
Harry: A soulgaze. I'm sorry, I didn't think it was possible. Thomas, my Thomas I mean...
Thomas: I think it'd be best if you explain exactly who you are and what you're doing here.
A beat of tense silence with only the background sounds.
Harry: Alright. If you agree to help me.
Justine: (quickly almost cutting him off) No.
Thomas: Now dear, we haven't even heard what he has to say.
Susan: I second that, so Mr. Dresden, what's your story?
Harry: (laughing lightly) Miss Rodriguez, not even you will be able to sell this story. You may want to sit down, this will take a while.
( The sound of chairs moving, maybe Mac gives them some beers. )
Harry: I'm from another dimension.
(someone snorts in disbelief.)
Harry: This wont make any sense if you don't let me tell it. You know the 4th law of magic?
Thomas: no traveling through time.
Harry: Exactly, well all the laws have some grey area and this is one of them. I'm looking for something. A book specifically. Several years ago in my history, I took down a sorcerer who was manufacturing a drug using magic. He'd been holed up in this lake house and the whole place burned to the ground. Since then there's been an organization. At least some of them have Wizard level power and they're working with Outsiders. I've been trying to track them down, figure out what they're planning, that kind of thing.
Harry: The problem is that they are very very good.
Harry: The way I figure it, they may have slipped up back when they were getting started. This sorcerer, someone taught him how to summon demons. There's no way he'd have gotten the names he had if he didn't have a master. If I can get my hands on his spellbook, then, well....
Harry: Since it was destroyed in my world, I worked up a very complicated ritual to let me bend the NeverNever to land me here. Technically I have't broken the law. Of course since no one knows me here finding the damn thing, if it even still exists, isn't going to be easy.
Harry: That's what I'd like your help with.
Susan: Well, at least one part of that is nonsense. I would totally be able to sell that story. That is, if the Barron approved of corse.
Harry: Yeah, about that. Barron John Marchone? And earlier, when you first came in, you asked Mac to close up. You work for him?
(there's a pause)
Susan: Well yes. I'm the head of public relations for Marchone Baronies incorporated, and Justine is...
Justine: Director of human recorces.
Harry: (hesitant, wary) Alright, I'll assume you had your reasons to hook up with a mob boss, but what's that have to do with the white court?
Thomas: (surprised and matter of fact) Because of the war.
Thomas: No it's alright. We can trust him.
Justine: He's a complete stranger.
They continue arguing the point, the sound of a door opening in the background.
Mac: (voice cutting over the argument) Murphy.
Murphy: Hello Mac, I found myself in the neighborhood. Everything okay?
Mac grunts noncomittally.
Harry: (shocked, and quiet) Murphy? Is that Fidlackious? You're a knight?
Murphy: Have we met?
Susan: We've already been over that. He says he's a wizard from another dimension, and needs our help.
Murphy: Is that true?
Harry: It is.
A heavy pause.
Murphy: I believe you.
Susan: Well, I guess that's the deciding vote then.
Harry: Thank you.
Murphy: don't thank me yet. I'm not sure what I can do for you.
Thomas: That sounds like as good a place as any to start.
Chairs move and people sit down.
Harry: In order to find the book I need to know how this world is different from mine. I mean the little things wont matter, but big events. Like the war you mentioned, that's the war between the Red Court and the White Council?
Thomas: Ah, no. The war is between the White Court and the Baronies. Given, it's mostly been a cold war so far, ever since the phage strike.
Harry: Phages? As in Phobophages? (he stops, takes a breath) start at the beguinning. How did this war start? How did you all get into this? What was your first interaction with the supernatural?
Murphy: (considering) I think I was the first to stumble into it.
Murphy: Something to add?
Thomas: No, go ahead.
Murphy: I was directing SI back then. That's special investigations. They're handed all the unexplainable cases, which meant I'd run into trolls and stray vamps and a lot of the smaller threats in the city. I remember, there had been a strange drug that made people see things, and then one month, everyone we brought in started screaming about wolves.
Murphy: Then there were the attacks. I didn't pick it up until the second month, but they were on the full moon. The feds got called in because a few happened out of our jurisdiction.
She pauses, maybe takes a drink.
Murphy: It was a mess. Would have lost my job right then if they hadn't taken over.
Harry: Yeah, something similar happened in my world. Trying to set up MacFinn right?
Murphy: Right. A bunch of them had these belts, but Barron MacFinn got wind of it early and was ready. He and his fiance had started training up these shifter kids. A lot of them got killed that night, but with MacFinn leading the pack it was enough to turn the tide.
Murphy: I was there because the FBI's story was full of holes.
Murphy: They had caught Baron Marchone somehow, This was back before ether of them was a baron, and were trying to kill him and pin it on Baron MacFinn.
Susan: And everyone knows how spectacularly that backfired.
Murphy: (shaking her head) It's not that simple. At the time, it was a mess. The only reason I kept my job was because I saved Marchone's life. Not that I ever wanted to be in his debt, but....
there's a beat of silence
Harry: Okay, that's fairly close to what happened in my world, but there's one thing I'm not clear on: Baron MacFin?
Thomas: Yes, Like Murphy said, the baronies weren't formed until a few years later but MacFin was just as powerful back then.
Harry: no I mean, you're talking about him as if he's still alive.
Thomas: (surprised) he is.
Susan: So he's not alive where you're from.
Harry: No, he died that night.
Susan: well, that certainly would have changed things....
Harry: … yes...
Harry: What else. Tell me everything that happened since then.
Thomas: It's not a pretty story.
Harry: you think mine is?
Thomas: (resigned) alright.
Thomas: After MacFinn, Marchone went on the warpath. He knew about magic and he started getting involved in the supernatural politics in the city, specifically the vampires. The reds had gotten hold of something, or someone and it was pissing him off. He came to my family and asked for our help. Of course my father and sister were more then happy to use him as a cat's paw to take the red's down a peg.
Thomas: There was a red, Bianka, she got promoted and threw a big party.
Susan: oh god, that was a night. I knew about the supernatural before then, but that night.
Thomas: (in agreement) hmmm.
Thomas: Marchone set everyone up. He used the whites against the reds, and vice versa, and made everyone think it was their own idea. Which, well, you can probably imagine how my family liked that.
Thomas: The reds got out of town and instead of the white court taking their place, it was Marchone. He'd used Bianca to get signed onto the accords, so any open action from my family would be a deceleration of war.
Susan: That's about when he brought me in.
Susan: he was still trying to solidify his power base when the winter knight was murdered. I was still reporting on things and picked up the story. MacFinn had gone back out west. Mab chose the second of his pack as her emissary in one of her classic power plays.
Susan: I wasn't there for the final big battle, but from what I put together afterword: There was a young woman, maybe a wizard, but if not she was definitely powerful. She helped kill the Summer Knight on the stone table. Then Billy killed her on the table. Aurora was overwhelmed, and in the end Mab killed her own knight on the table, partially to keep the balance but also because he betrayed her.
Harry: so wait, both knights?
Justine: Yes, the fey courts mostly work through emissaries now.
Susan: and don't even try to talk about the weather. Everything's been more extreme since then. Harsher winters, hotter summers.
Harry: That's, that's not good. That means the winter queen probably knows I'm here.
Thomas: how do you mean.
Harry: (hesitating) well, in my world... I'm the winter knight.
Noises of surprise from everyone. The sound of a sword being drawn, as Karren stands
Harry: Murphy, Karren, I give you my word that I am not here to hurt anyone. She may be the one to give me orders, but she does not control me.
Murphy sighs slowly and sits back down.
Harry: (relieved sigh) how did you get that sword anyway. I mean, I--it was offered to you in my world, but you never took it up.
Murphy: It was after the mess with the fey war. Do you know of the Denarians?
Harry: (in a tight voice) I do.
Murphy: They came to Chicago.
Susan: Baron Marchone wanted the shroud of turin, and arranged to acquire it.
Murphy: (in agreement) the denarians stole it during the transaction.
Murphy: I had been demoted and was handling security at the event. I failed to get the thieves out alive, and worse, I managed to get myself caught. Nickedemus straight up told me his plan. Michael wanted to trade himself for me. He said I was an innocent. Except Shiro wouldn't let him. He insisted that it be him instead.
Murphy pauses in her story, and takes a drink. The bottle clinks onto the table.
Murphy: I called in every favor I had left to get the airport closed.
Murphy: Shiro was there.
Murphy: (taking a breath) he was my predecessor ---
Harry: (interrupting) I know. He was a good man.
Murphy: Michael and I got there as they were finishing the ritual. Michael was overwhelmed and I ended up with Fidlackious and I.... They killed Shiro. but the shroud got destroyed. Just under seven thousand people died from the plagues. I tell myself it could have been worse. The massacre was blamed on me. It was the last straw for my career with the CPD and, well, I owed Shiro.
Harry: So you became a knight.
Murphy: It was the only way to keep protecting everyone I cared about. This world's become a very dangerous place in the last decade.
Harry: it sounds like it.
Harry: So what happened next?
Susan: (shuddering) the necromancers.
Thomas: No, the war kicked off before that.
Susan: right, yes, go ahead.
Thomas: There was a lot of tension in the white court. The other houses kept accusing my father of not handling everything with Marchone properly. Then one of our interests along with my little sister, was threatened.
Harry: Let me guess, something in the adult film industry?
Thomas: Actually yes. It was taken care of, but in the process my little sister was killed. My father blamed it on Marchone.
Harry: but you don't believe that.
Thomas: Not for one minute. That's when I started working against my family.
Justiene: Thomas, are you sure about this?
Harry: I know you don't want to trust me, but in my world, what he's talking about: I was there. His sister survived, fell in love even. And... that was when I found out Thomas is my half-brother.
The girls all make sounds of surprise. Murphy curses quietly, the others gasp or Ooo.
Thomas: It's true, the soulgase confirmed it. He's not really my brother, because of the dimentional thing, but he could have been. Maybe even...
Harry: Yeah, there could be a version of me running around somewhere. That was actually something I was pretty worried about. I've had a lot of chances to go bad over the years. It looks like I never made it to Chicago, but if I had. I could have been your enemy. I could have tried to take over. I might even have suceeded, or if I hadn't then I could have been working for Marchone or Mab or even Nichodemus. I could have become the next Kemlar.
Susan: You were there? When the deciples of Kemlar tried to destroy the city? Of course you were. You're a warden.
Harry: Sort of, that was actually when they recruited me, but how did it happen here?
Susan: Baron Marchone got wind of them when they killed one of his runners. He let the White Council know and then gave them permission to perform a strike in the city. There were four of them I think? Or maybe it was only three. But they ripped apart the field museum, and set loose the wild hunt, and tore apart at least two of the morgues.
Harry: Waldo Butters, he was a mortition. Did he? Is he alive?
Susan: … I don't know. I don't recall the name.
Harry: Okay, sorry he's just someone I know, go on.
Susan: (takes a breath and reorders her thoughts.) The white council came down hard on Kemler's heirs. Like I said, there was a lot of collateral damage. The council had to pay a large wareguild to Marchone and MacFinn but in the end, well, just the fact that we're here proves none of them came to power.
Harry: Yeah, I guess it does. For the wareguilds, Marchone I get, but why MacFinn.
Susan: the pack he'd formed,
Harry: The Alphas?
Susan: Right, you know them? They were on the front lines. They stalled the Heirs long enough for the wardens to strike.
Harry: (disbelief) They're dead? Billy and Georgia and the rest?
Susan: Well, I didn't exactly know them, but yes, that's what the report said.
Susan: I'm sorry.
Harry: It's fine. They weren't the people I knew. What happened next?
Thomas: The war happened.
Justiene: The other houses had a bunch of plans to show how weak the white king was. They called up a bunch of phobophages and set them loose on a horror movie convention.
Harry: (weakly) Molly.
Murphy: if you mean Molly Carpenter, then yes, she died.
Justiene: once Marchone got wind of it, he called in some contractors. They managed to get things sorted out, but not before the death toll was over a hundred.
Justiene: Marchone had enough evidence to point fingers, even if it was only at the cat's paws. It was enough that the court had to make reperations. I was traded to him along with a few others.
Thomas: It made a lot of people angry. If you know anything about my family you know how they hate to get their hands dirty, and Marchone was dragging every one of them he could through the mud.
Thomas: Even worse, everyone who had any kind of ambition was trying to upset the balance enough to grab power. House Malvora and Scavis were mostly aiming their hostility at Wreith...
Harry: Civil War.
Thomas: Except we were already in the middle of one war, even if it was more of a cold war. By then Marchone had made aliences with Baron MacFinn and Monoc Secrurities, as well as being in good standing with the White Council. There were rumors that he took in Changlings. Every move he made was to enlarge his power base. That's why I made sure Justine was working for him. If anyone could bring down my family it looked like it would be him.
Harry: She passed on infirmation.
Justiene: I still do.
Harry: Sorry, I didn't mean to imply...
Thomas: Anyway, it eventually came to a head. My father tried to play, Malvora and Scavis off each other but it was too little too late. By that point it was either go down swinging or give up his position.
Harry: Somehow I don't see him giving up without a fight.
Thomas: My sister Lara, stabbed him in the back.
Harry: (hesitantly) Figurativly?
Thomas: Literally. She said Wreith had no right to rule after our father's mess, and with all that power being offered up everyone easily agreed to sue for peace and pin all the failings on the dead guy.
Harry: Did Marchone go along with it?
Justine: He did.
Thomas: I'm fairly sure that Lara is just biding her time to get back at all of them, but that's pretty par for the course at this point.
They all drink, the sounds of bottles clink on the table.
Susan: I'll get another round.
Harry: (after a pause) Is she alright?
Justine: Yes, it's just, this next part isn't pretty and she was caught up in it.
Justine: Nichodemus had noticed all the power Marchone was gathering.
Murphy: (muttering) He wasn't the only one.
Justine: They wanted him to take up the coin and they were willing to torture his employees, bodyguards, anyone they thought was close to him, to do it. Including Susan.
Murphy: Several good people died that day.
Harry: You fought him?
Murphy: And Michael, and Sonya. I only got out because Guard called in Loki. Apparently Loki and Nicodemus have some history. Michael wasn't so lucky. They made sure it was painful, and they still have his sword if it hasn't been broken by now. Sonya made it out but he still has a limp.
Harry lets out a breath.
Justine: There are debts still owed from that night. And, well....
Murphy: in the end he took the coin.
Justine: (adamant) he didn't.
Murphy: (determined) He may not have joined Nichodemus but he's held it. He's tainted, and I haven't seen him relinquish any of his power or seek redemption.
Susan: Karen, it's alright. That's not why we're here.
Karen takes a breath, and they all drink some more.
Harry: is there anything else I should know about?
Murphy: Only the fall of the White Council.
Harry: (in shock) Fall?
Murphy: There have been some internal politics going on for a while, but no one on the outside knew the depths of it. Then a senior warden went rogue and within 48 hours five members of the senior council were dead along with three fourths of the wardens. Technically the Council still exists but everyone knows they can't do much at the moment. The Red Court, the Formour, and a dozen other minor powers have been trying to grab pieces of the pie.
Murphy: That's why Marchone set up the United Barronies. At this point being under their protection is more of a deterrent then signing on to the accords.
Harry: Hence the plac.
Murphy humms in agreement and in the background Mac grunts.
Harry breathes out hard.
Harry: no other surprises?
Humms and grunts in the negative.
Sounds of people drinking.
Justine: … so, as fascinating and enjoyable as this trip down memory lane has been... what now?
Harry: Now... (he breaths out hard)
Murphy: is your world that different?
Harry: No it's not that. I mean it is, but I expected that. It's kind of the point.
Susan: How different is it? Just out of professional curiosity....
Harry: Different enough.
Susan: Oh come on, just a few little hints?
Harry: (coldly) you're dead.
Harry lets out another breath.
Harry: I'm sorry. It's just, seeing you now... We were in a relationship and things....
Susan: (softly) didn't end well?
Harry: you could say that.
Harry pulls himself together, clearing his throat.
Harry: From what you said, the book I'm looking for could have been destroyed, or it could have been picked up by one of a few different people. So question one: The drug you mentioned Murphy, is it still floating around or was that taken care of?
Murphy: It... I guess it was taken care of.
Thomas: It was the White Council I think. Everyone was playing cats paws back then.
Justine: It wasn't the White Court.
Thomas hums in agreement.
Susan: That was a bit before my time, but I don't think it was Baron Marchone. I mean he was really angry about it, I remember that much, but he didn't have the reach he does now. I always sort of thought it was the Reds.
Thomas: If it was, someone was pulling their strings.
Harry: No if Bianka is anything like she was in my world she'd want people to know it was her.
Harry: Thomas, can you do some digging in the White Court?
Thomas: Sure, but what are you going to do?
Harry: I'm going to pay a visit to Marchone.