Building myself a lair was about more than having a crash space away from home. With the tree ghosts and the bound bogeyman under my care, I knew I had opened a door that couldn’t be close. I wasn’t just a dhampir, I was a fledgeling sorceress and I did not doubt words of what I’d done would spread and reputation meant enemies and potential allies.
So the next few days were used to spend all that money Coil had thrown at me. Half a million dollars was how thick my back account had gotten. Coil never did things halfway, that included paying me.
The first thing I had needed was new rooms. The open plan was fine for the kitchen and the living area, but I needed an occult room and a meeting and planning room. That meant constructing new walls. I could have done it myself, but instead hired workers, with a bonus to do the job as soon as possible. Three new walls sound proofed and with a false brick finish would be added to the loft.
The next step was getting the living quarters up and running. That meant two leather couches, a large work desk, a television set, a kitchen table and new appliances, the ones that remained from the original development no longer worked. Since I had plenty of space I added a set of gym equipment; Punching bag, weights, workbench, mats and separator for some privacy. I’d always liked a minimalist, slightly abstract style rather than antiques like Coil always used.
The bedroom got the same treatment, I took most of the left side wall from the entrance and dedicated it to a large wardrobe within which I had the weapon safe installed, ditched the six beds for a king sized one.
But it wasn’t just a matter of furnitures, I needed supplies and gears. The former was the easiest, I’d been destroying clothes steadily with each outing and I would need a lot more. Which was why the wardrobe came in. Then there was food, I hated cooking, which was why if my mother didn’t cook and I didn’t have money I’d just eat whatever I could open and heat up. So I stocked the pantry with non-perishable in case I’d be unable to leave. Gears were a little more tricky. But a phone call to Lionel was all I needed to get in contact with all manners of mundane and occult arms dealer.
The most important piece of which was armor. One of Coil’s contact had a good solution for me; titanium chainmail weaved within two layers of ballistic fiber. The former would stop not just knives but claws while the latter would protect me from small arms fire. There wasn’t much that existed that could protect from say an assault rifle, the only somewhat effective armor was bulky and heavy due to the thick ceramic plates hidden within, even then, you’d easily break bones by absorbing the shock, you’d be alive but out of the fight. If large firearms came into play, it was better just to stick to cover. Coil had delivered the pair of rapiers he’d offered me several days ago, but to it I added a few more weapons: The Abendroth’s tomahawk, it had proven to be a useful weapon, as well as a selection of knives in different shapes and materials. Rather than put them in the safe, I set them on a rack in the common room.
When friday came by, all that remained was to finish the two new extra rooms I’d had constructed. With a generous tip if they finished quickly, the job had taken two long but rewarding days for the builders I’d employed.
“That’s pretty amazing.” Kaleb said when he saw what I’d done with the place. “Nice record player.” He said, nodding to the old school record player I’d bought. A completely frivolous expense, but I had lots of money and my favorite band had their music on vinyl which did sound better for reasons that eluded me.
“Want to listen to something?” I asked. I took out a record from the cabinet next to it and put it on.
“Now you’re just trying to make me jealous.” He said when he recognized the first song from the Album Floodland.
“I just thought you’d enjoy it.” I said, drawing him closer.
We exchanged a few slow kisses, to the sound of music. If my first kiss had been underwhelming, we were getting much better at it.
“You look great.” He then said, when we pulled away. “Actually great is an understatement.”
I was wearing the new dress I’d bought; a short sleeveless black lace dress, mess gloves and heels. Although I usually let my hair fall down my shoulders, I’d tied it up in a chignon adorned with a white flower. On my neck a silver ankh hung from a chain while my throat was covered with a lace choker. Although it wasn’t really prominent, I always got anxious at my adam’s apple, so I usually liked wearing chokers or anything that would hide it.
“Yeah, I have this thing tonight at Coil’s I won’t be able to see you.” I said, pouting. “But I still have about an hour before I have to go. “Want to watch a movie? I don’t have cable yet, but I got my favorites on disk.”
I dragged him to the couch and showed him my blu rays.
“Of course you have Tim Burton’s collection.” He said with a chuckle.
“What, his movies are awesome.” I said, sticking my tongue out.
“Of course they are.” He said, wrapping a hand around my shoulders when I sat down after putting on my favorite, Beetlejuice, in. Saying we watched it was a lie, we mostly just cuddled, kissed and chatted idly. With me promising to show him Dark City another time. It was in the middle of snogging session number seventeen that my phone rang.
“Lauren here.” I answered.
“I’m waiting for you downstairs.” It was No-Name Shinoda and that was the most vocal he’d ever been.
“Thank you, I’ll be down in a minute.” I said, hanging up. I turned to Kaleb. “I have to go, you can stay here if you’d like. If you’re hungry and want to order something, there’s money in a bag under the bed.” That was an understatement, there was twenty-thousands in bills that I kept in case I needed lots of money quickly and discretely.
“Well, before we started, I wanted to ask you when you’d be able to come to the base, I told the others you needed some time, but they’re getting awfully chatty.”
“I’ll go with you tomorrow.” I said. “I’ll tell them I decided I want in… Did you tell them about me and Coil?”
“Do you think they should know?”
“I don’t know if they’ll accept it…”
“Alright.” I hugged him one last time before heading to the industrial lift that lead outside. I used it to go the the basement, what held the garage. Shinoda was waiting for me in his car.
“Good evening.” I said when I entered. “To Coil’s.”
He gave me a nod in the mirror and started driving. It was a long drive and it gave me the time to think. There was another reason I’d needed my own base of operation. In thirty years’ time, I would be ruling this city if Coil’s plan would bear fruits. Which meant I needed to get out of Coil’s shadow and establish myself. The undersiders would help, they were strong, but people underestimated them.
I opened my bag and took out a document. It was a copy of Coil’s contract. It named the many factions around Town, which I knew many of whom would attend. The fundraiser was also a great excuse to get the factions together under an enforced peace regardless of the state of things. Nobody was foolish enough to start trouble with nearly two hundred guests and the local television crew watching.
There were a lot of names under the list, all the groups and occasional individuals that were a part of the Covenant; The diabolist of The Circle of the Red Oath, the witches of the Sisterhood of the Pale, the Abendroth, six packs of shifters, the Darksiders, the Lamplighters, the Fae courts. But one of the name interested me most of all; Grigori Maxwell named the Downtown sorcerer.
If I wanted to get stronger, I would need someone to teach me how to better use the gift of bargaining. I might have not known Grigori, but I knew something; He was strong enough to be single handedly considered a faction and he was a sorcerer, a free agent not bound by higher powers.
“We’re here.” Shinoda said. He was very vocal that night, making me think he was warming up.
The television crew had already arrived, two vans were parked in front of the place. A banderole had been hung over the doors announcing the event and the fountain had been decorated with lights undergoing a slow rotation through the rainbow.
As Shinoda opened to door for me, another thing he insisted on doing, Coil walked down the steps. He was back to his custom tailored suits.
“You’re here and looking magnificent, might I add. But I hope you’re prepared for the hell of politics.”
“More than ever.” I answered.