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The Portland Incident (WIP)

#25492
Dobby has come to protect Harry Potter, to warn him...

This thread contains posts or themes involving language, adult themes that may be uncomfortable for some players or that may not be appropriate for all ages. If you would like to know more before reading, please PM the player who started the thread. If you feel that this thread's content exceeds what is appropriate or is otherwise offensive, please report it.
Introduction:
This is a long-simmering story that I just want to have out there, even though it’s unfinished. Slowly but surely, more will be added.

Parts of this have been posted previously, but I’m reposting here so it’s all in one place.

Comments welcome and hopefully it’s an enjoyable look at how and why Tasha, a young Chicago auror uprooted her entire life and moved to the UK.

Table Of Contents (to be linked)
Introduction
Descent Into Portland
The Prophecy
Sneaking Through the Deeps
The Cage
Down in Flames

Thanks to Vy for the awesome post header!

Re: The Portland Incident (WIP)

#25513
Natasha Porter ★ Auror Trainee, American Bureau of Magical Affairs
March 1999, Portland, Oregon
“Do you trust me?” he asked, his voice barely a whisper. The tall, muscular wizard with a seemingly ever-present shadow of stubble stood with an auburn-haired, young-faced witch in front of a large metal grate covering a currently dry overflow tunnel in the Portland sewer system. Prominent hazard signs cautioned trespassers of danger within and hefty fines to those caught.

Natasha hesitated, the words caught in her throat—of course she trusted Jake. He was her mentor: a man who’d taught her everything she needed to know about being an auror over the past two years, and who treated her as an equal, a true partner; her best friend and drinking buddy; and what more, her lover. But something about this seemed off, made her question what they were about to do. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but she rarely felt this anxious before a case, and that worried her. Tasha chewed her lip nervously and looked away.

“Hey…” Jake murmured, pulling Tasha’s chin upwards gently to look him in the eyes, “we can do this, but we’ve got to move fast, and we’ve got to move now if we want to get this son of a bitch. Do you trust me on this, or not?”

“….yes,” she exhaled deeply, forcing a thin, tight-lipped smile, “of course I do. And maybe after we pull this off, we can finally take that vacation we talked about…beaches, no dark wizards, werewolves, or vampires, and lots of drinks with tiny umbrellas. Gaffigan owes us already. And after this?” her smile quickly faded as she was reminded of the task in front of them.

“We’ll get through this, and we’re going to be heroes, and then we’re going to be drunk for an entire month in the Caribbean or Mexico, or Hawaii…hell, wherever you want. You’ve earned it after these last few months chasing these bastards,” Jake smiled, hesitating a moment himself “You’re a damn fine auror, Tasha…and I love you.”

The words hit her like a semi-truck, and her face grew hot as her stomach turned itself upside down several times over. She’d known—at least she’d thought she’d known—that she loved him for a very long time, but was always too afraid to say it, too afraid that she’d ruin what they had, as irrational as the notion was. How many mentors drank with their trainees? How many took the blame for mistakes that were clearly her fault? How many hung out outside of work frequently, let alone slept with them regularly? “…I love you, Jake,” she said, her voice catching. She grabbed his face between her hands and planted a hard kiss on his lips that lingered for a very, very long time.

Jake returned the kiss eagerly, but finally broke away, a broad smile on his face. “Been wanting to say that for a long time…” he exhaled, his arms wrapped around her.

“Duty calls though, yeah?”

“Right,” she sighed, drawing her wand with a flick of her wrist, but keeping one arm wrapped around Jake as he made a similar motion to draw his wand. “Let’s do this.” Bolts of magical energy fired from the tips of their wands and smashed into the heavy lock and chains securing the overflow tunnel.

Re: The Portland Incident (WIP)

#25515
Natasha Porter ★ Auror Trainee, American Bureau of Magical Affairs
Tasha bowed her head slightly as she stepped into the tunnel and paused as she let her eyes adjust to the darkness. A small trickle of water flowed through the bottom of the pipe where the tunnel was tallest, so the pair faced either wet shoes to stand more upright, or a cramped back to keep their feet dry and their approach as silent and splash-free as possible.

“Keep out of the water,” Jake whispered, “It’ll keep us quieter.”

Tasha illuminated the end of her wand with a whispered incantation, but Jake pushed her wand downward with his hand. “Anyone else down here will see a light source way before we see them. Think more outside the box, beautiful,” he whispered, waving his wand over her face, then repeating the gesture to himself. Her eyes burned and watered and she squinted them shut in pain. When she looked at Jake she found that his eyes looked much more like a cat’s, a slit of pupil widening to adjust to the darkness ahead.

“Cats see better in the dark. Plus if we’re hunting dogs, we may as well make ourselves part cat, right?” Jake flashed her a smirk.

Tasha rolled her eyes and swatted at Jake’s crotch with the tip of her wand, which he playfully slapped away. “Hey. I need that for later,” he grinned.

“Mmmhmm. Yeah? For what?” she smirked back. “C’mon. We’ve got a lot of distance to cover and probably can’t move that fast in a place like this.” Tasha moved forward, hunched over to keep from hitting the ceiling as she did her best to keep her feet on dry brickwork Jake followed behind, clearly more uncomfortable than Tasha given his height.

“Getting too old for this shit,” he grumbled under his breath.

“Oh shut up, you’re barely 30,” she sassed back.

They did this kind of bantering frequently—it helped keep the tension down. When they needed to, though, they could flip a switch be all business. Jake was one of the top aurors in the Chicago division of the Bureau thanks to his keen eye for detail, his natural charm with witnesses, his devastatingly effective hexes and counter-curses, and his near obsession with merging Ordinary martial arts and spellcasting. Tasha was a rising star herself, thanks to Jake’s tutelage, and while a few in the bureau raised their eyebrows at just how close the two were, their effectiveness at putting away dark wizards seemed to keep them out of hot water.

“How confident are we about our intel?” Tasha asked after a moment of travel down the corridor, her magically enchanted eyes piercing the darkness of the tunnel ahead of them. “Do we really think Voss is going to be down here?”

Jake was quiet for a moment as they continued their trek down the tunnel, “I’m pretty confident. We’ve had him on the run for a while. Most of his old hiding spots are gone, and he’s been getting sloppy and desperate as we’ve gotten closer and closer to the celestial alignment he’s been waiting for. The ritual’s got to happen tonight. Put that together with the tour bus full of people disappearing in broad daylight…plus the prophecy from that dusty old hag… I’m pretty confident.”

Tasha shivered. She hated seers, especially that one. The woman lived in a hovel in the middle of a Louisiana bayou, looked to be at least 150 years old, and she had a haunting one-eyed gaze that seemed to stay with her months later…

Re: The Portland Incident (WIP)

#25577
Natasha Porter ★ Auror Trainee, American Bureau of Magical Affairs
June 1998. Middle of Nowhere Louisiana, USA.
Tasha pitched forward as a tree root grabbed her ankle, just barely grabbing hold of a tree to catch her fall. She swore under her breath as Jake steadied her and they paused in the oppressive heat of the bayou. Insects buzzed incessantly and a thick, damp mist obscured their vision beyond just a few feet in front of them and further drenched their clothes already dampened by hours of exertion in a hellish swamp too humid to let any sweat evaporate and provide cooling relief.

“Is this bitch really going to help us figure out what Voss is playing at? Because at this point, if trudging through this goddamned swamp gets us nothing, I’m going to quit and go be a muggle cop in Chicago, where I’m less likely to spend three hours in a swamp dodging alligators, snakes, and mosquitos the size of swallows,” she grumbled, swatting at one of the aforementioned blood-suckers.

Jake smirked back at her. “You’d miss being able to stun your suspects. And me.” He reached into his magically-enhanced pocket and withdrew a canteen that had a thin layer of frost on it, unscrewed the top and took a long swig before offering it to Tasha, who quickly took it from his hands, took a drink, and held it against the back of her neck.

“You’re right,” she smirked. “I would miss stunning you.”

Jake flipped his partner the middle finger with a sarcastic smirk of his own. “But yes. She’s one of the best in the country. She’s just….old school. And she likes her privacy and solitude. Only wants to give guidance to those she thinks are worthy.”

Tasha grimaced and took another drink from the canteen. “Hence the riddles and the three hour trudge through this hellhole without much help from magic…yeah, yeah, yeah…”

“Look,” he sighed, grabbing the canteen back and taking another swig before sliding it back into his pocket, “we’re at a bit of a dead-end otherwise. And once we have our info, we can probably just apparate home. So we’re almost at the end here.”

Tasha stared off into the distance as her partner spoke, catching her breath and longing for a long, cold shower and a bed. She narrowed her eyes as a bit of flickering light caught her attention through the mist just a few hundred yards ahead of them, the vague outline of a clearing with a crude structure within peeking through the diminishing gloom.

“Closer than we think, maybe…” she said, starting to carefully clamber forward, gingerly testing the squelching mud to see if it would support her weight without drenching her to her mid-thighs again, her wand outstretched and aimed at the ground to illuminate any more hiding tree roots. Jake perked up and began following closely, scrambling through the muck and swampy undergrowth.

The pair stumbled unto suddenly dry ground and surprisingly clear air, almost as if they’d stepped through a physical veil that parted the mist. The smell of the swamp still lingered here but was mixed with the pungent scent of incense, herbs, and rotting meat. Tasha wrinkled her nose in disgust, but kept her mouth shut. In front of them stood a ramshackle hut made of bits of timber, mud, and a long-rusted sheet metal roof. A low campfire burned outside of the hut, illuminating the partially moonlit clearing.

“Not often old Marie gets visitors…welcome,” a thickly Cajun-accented voice spoke from inside the hut. A hunched shadow limped towards the doorway, supported by a withered cane. The light from the fire slowly revealed a truly ancient woman, her wrinkled, leathery, chocolate-colored skin hanging loosely from her frame, one eye clouded completely over and the other in a permanent squint, a few strands of long white hair dangled from beneath a red and white polka dot scarf long-faded by time. Her clothes looked nearly as ancient as she was—a long, faded gray dress not dissimilar to what a house servant from the 1800s would wear. “You…you de ones looking for the wolf who be wantin’ to eat de whole world…” her voice crackled. “You best be comin’ inside…”

Tasha flashed her partner an impressed look twinged with a bit discomfort. Maybe this crone was the real deal, but the woman’s squinty, one-eyed gaze was already giving her the creeps. She cautiously stepped forward towards the hut, and Jake followed directly behind as they entered the hovel. The damp smell of earth and rot was obscured more here by the overpowering, smoky haze of incense, magical herbs and pipe tobacco. Tasha, much to her chagrin, coughed heavily as the smells overpowered her. Marie let out a wet, gurgling chuckle as she looked back at Tasha, her one eye glaring back at her.

Jake and Tasha stood rather uncomfortably just inside the doorway of the hut, which was somehow far larger inside than it was outside, but in just as shabby condition. The old woman beckoned for them to follow her deeper inside towards what appeared to be a kitchen with a rickety little table and three chairs in the corner. Mice and rats scurried around the edge of the the structure, and every footstep was met with a disturbing crunch as cockroaches and beetles practically carpeted the floor. Marie, however, paid the critters no mind, and they actually seemed to part for her as she hobbled forward.

“You be wantin’ some tea…” Marie croaked. It wasn’t exactly clear if that was an offer, an order, or a question.

Tasha surveying her surroundings with a look of dismay responded, “No!” so quickly that Jake elbowed her sharply. “Thank, you,” she added, wincing a bit.

Another gurgling chuckle and sidelong glance from the old woman. Tasha shuddered.

“I’ll have some, please,” Jake said coolly as he sat down at the table and nodded at Tasha for her to do the same. She did as instructed, grudgingly, and watched as the woman finished preparing two cups of tea, and then floated them over to the table with a flick of her gnarled wrist, following slowly behind them and leaning heavily on her cane. She grunted with effort and sat down opposite the two aurors, taking a long, shaky drink of her tea before setting it down and staring at the leaves at the bottom of the cup.

“Two lovers working together to save de world,” her voice rattled, only looking up at them after a long, uncomfortable pause. Tasha looked around nervously, but Jake squeezed her knee under the table, simply nodding. “No sense hiding *that* part from you…” he said after swallowing a sip of his tea. He had a great poker face after the drink, but Tasha knew his tells, and he was trying extremely hard not to spit the drink out immediately.

“I seen you in my dreams…” Marie began, looking between both aurors. “Running. Hunting. Chasing the big, bad wolf…he don't wanna be found, but you gonna find him.” The old crone’s one-eyed gaze drifted up and stared at Tasha, who shivered uncontrollably. Jake gripped her knee under the table with his strong hand. “You got many questions, mon chéri… Old Marie knows many tings…”

Tasha didn’t know why the old woman bothered her so much. She’d gone toe-to-toe with dementors that were less frightening to her. “W-what does he want? Where’s he going?” she stammered, trying to regain her composure.

“Why does he keep killing people chained up in his hideouts? Don’t most werewolves like the hunt? And why the hearts? Why does he only take the hearts?”

Marie stared at Tasha in silence before wordlessly letting her gaze drift back down to the tea leaves. “He ain’t like the other wolves, chile…I see a river of blood flowin’ ‘neath the port by the western sea… strange stars and a full moon be lightin’ the sky. An’ from that river be springin’ an army of beasts…” she hissed.

Jake looked on in silence, his face twisted in concentration. “He’s been slowly moving west…Boston…New York…Nashville…Chicago…Denver. We’ve never found the hearts…” he said quietly to Tasha.

“Maybe he’s saving them…for another ritual? Seems like each of the murders happened connected to a ritual where we found the bodies…” she pondered along with him.
Marie flashed a rotten-toothed smile to the dregs of tea left in the cup in front of her, nodding without looking at the aurors. “The wolf be lonely…always wantin’ more friends…”

Tasha looked at the old woman, and then back to her partner “…we should talk to the werewolf unit…have there been a spike in cases where the murders have been?”

Jake nodded in agreement. “We should…this is might be bigger than we thought…thank you, Marie,” he said politely to the old woman who continued to stare downward into her teacup, motionless. It wasn’t even clear that she was breathing.

Tasha and Jake exchanged looks, unsure of what exactly to do with the corpse-like woman, motionless and unbreathing. They rose quietly, both pondering just walking out the door. A slow, gurgling chuckle rose from the old woman, startling them both after her unnaturally long pause. “One’ve you gonna wind up howlin’ at the moon just like the wolf…” she chuckled darkly.