The Price

Criminal Enterprises

The motley hunkers in Charlie Cobwebs‘s Hollow to discuss how to deal with their current issues. They cobble together a plan to deal with Mrs. Callaghan’s debt to the Zerillis. Mir tells the others that his father is helping to convince her to move. Nikki reveals her plan to steal diamonds from the Mob to pay for a bribe. The one problem that remains is how she will replace them with a convincing forgery.

For now the team spends most of their time in the Hollow, venturing out for work and things that can only be accomplished in the real world. They work in teams in case Eric and other monster hunters find them. Miroslav sticks with his sister while the McQueen brothers and Charlie form a second group. Nikki begins to create a third alternate identity. Rocco laments not having internet access in the Hedge.

Rocco calls Ruzena and warns her not to come back to Detroit. He tells her about the fall of market. Her voice cheers up upon the news of the deaths of the leaders of the Guild of Shadows and the emotional damage to Queen of Shadows. Rocco brings up the subject of Ruzena trading away her compulsion to kill. She seems more receptive.

Nikki meanwhile contacts her friend Maeve. The mob moll has managed to uncover the details of the diamond drop.The deal is for the Crossroads gang to deliver a truck load of drugs to a warehouse downtown for a briefcase of diamonds.

Until then the diamonds will be kept in a bank vault of the Bank of Livonia. Maeve is unsure how they might break in. Nikki however considers depositing her Hedge gateway painting and using that to beat the security.

On the day of drop off, a thug by the name of Tommy Trevisano and some men will take the jewels to Jake’s Crossroad’s Bar at the intersection of Oakwood and Dix. At the bar, Tommy will meet with a man known as Mr. Pocket who will identify himself with a pair of white gloves. Tommy will give him the briefcase and Pocket will call his associates. When the delivery is confirmed on both sides, Pocket will exit via the backdoor.

Nikki thanks her for the information and asks Maeve to get her a copy of the safe deposit box key where the diamonds will be kept. The thief considers going to the Court of Jewels’ private club for help but holds off for now.

Instead she asks her brother if he knows anything about Feral Tom’s weaknesses. She tries to explain that she worried the True Fae might come after them. Tom has known them since they were children but they know little about him. Miroslav for his part seems averse to poking into his business, thinking leaving Tom alone is the better course. Nikki begins to call her brother “the future king of shadows.” Mir seems oblivious to her jibs.

Miroslav does agree to piece together some information on Tom. Since his escape from the Book of Ages however details have become sparse. What Miroslav determines is that Tom was one of the most powerful of the True Fae. His only real weakness might be cold iron.

At Marco’s shop, the brothers work on their own projects. Rocco researches the people hunting them. He turns up surprisingly little. Eric traveled to Europe after high school, visiting Italy, before vanishing. Then he reappears assigned to a parish in Boston. About three years ago, he disappears for good. He has no internet presence. Jennifer Conner is similar. After being shuffled between mental institutions for several years, she broke out or was broken out and then disappeared.

Rocco voices his worries that the hunters must be expecting to be looked for. They are being very smart.

Marco meanwhile messes with the blueprints he acquired from Chris. He finds plans for an automatic toolbox that will rotate to the desired toolset at the push of a button. After a couple of hours he has it built. But already he is thinking of his next creation.

Marco hears a car pull up outside. He alerts the others and they head to the side door.

They immediately run into four black men wearing red bandannas. One shouts, “That’s him,” as he points at Rocco. “Get him!”

Marco seizes the initiative and swings his heavy metal wrench at one of the intruders. He connects with the burly man’s head with a painful crunch.

Rocco calls upon the electricity in the building. A light bulb overhead bursts and an arc of electricity flies into another thug. Burned and freaked out he and his injured companion flee.

Another one joins the retreat but the last one steps into the room and grabs Charlie, putting a gun to her head.

As his girlfriend struggles, Marco slips behind the gang member and bashes him with his wrench. Electricity shoots through the air a second later. The burned and bludgeoned goon surrenders.

The brothers tie him up. Then after making sure his friends are gone, Rocco sets a car battery in front of the thug. He calmly explains that if he doesn’t want to get hurt he should tell them what they want to know.

The thug spills everything. His name is Tyrone. He and the others were sent here by Kristen Murray. Rocco nods as he recognizes his mother’s fetch‘s alias. Unfortunately Tyrone doesn’t know why they were supposed to grab one of them. Joe Black, the guy Marco clubbed, had that information.

Rocco learns that Tyrone has a drug habit and is paid a pittance for his “work”. He offers the ex-con a job if he brings back some of his buddies to help as well. Tyrone is reluctant but agrees.

As Tyrone leaves on foot, Charlie points out his fellow gang members will probably beat him up for this. She suggests following him.

The Changelings have no difficulty following the stumbling criminal to a local junkyard.

Rocco suggests that Marco call his cousin Joe Zerilli and get the Mob to take out the fetch’s gang. Marco makes a quick call and wakes up his muscle-bound cousin. Joe Z isn’t happy to lose sleep but perks up when he learns about an opportunity to put the hurt on this thorn in his side. He tells Marco to stay hidden and wait for the boys to arrive.

His brother and girlfriend hide elsewhere. About a half hour later two cars full of well armed men arrive. One of them flags down Marco and tells him to book it when the shooting starts.

The mobsters encircle the junkyard. As soon as the bullets begin to fly, Marco makes his escape. Rocco and Charlie sees the gang members cut down. Tyrone dies at the entrance to the yard. After about five minutes, the mob goons pull out their wounded and drive out of there.

Nikki decides that glass diamonds are not enough. She will need magic to make a perfect forgery. She searches the Hedge for someone with the talents she needs. She soon tracks down the Syzygy Sisters. She makes a deal with them to glamour the stones in exchange for a personal Hedge gateway painting.

Miroslav meanwhile tries to learn something about Eric through his occult contacts. Unfortunately all he finds are rumors of Vatican hit men and vampire hunters.

He turns his efforts to tracking down Mr. Wilkens’s book. Unfortunately his contacts can only turn up that there a small print run in the United Kingdom. He might be able to find a copy if he visits there. After some searching, He books a flight to London and places the Quill in the care of the Guild of Shadows.

Rocco does his own digging. He uncovers hints of monster hunting activity: the destruction by arson of a rumored haunted house, the disappearance of a strange old woman, and other oddities from Eric’s time in Boston. Rocco also takes the time to reinvest his money from the botnet deal through a series of shell companies. He sets up a start-up focused on encryption software.

Marco continues crafting. In the span of a few days he creates two clips of cold iron 9mm bullets. Along the way he creates a bullet press and adds voice activation to his toolbox. The plans lie scattered around his shop, small piles.

Nikki convinces most of the motley to help her find more squid ink tubers for her magical painting. It takes several hours but they find another patch in a high tree. As Nikki starts to climb however, the motley hears something coming out of the surrounding brush.

Suddenly they find the undergrowth swarming with cats. Nikki jumps down to join the others. Then the thorns pull away to reveal the majestic Lord of Cats. Golden furred and rippling with power and strength, the creature once known as Feral Tom asks them their business here.

Rocco steps forward and greets him with proper decorum. He explains they seek the tubers in this area. The Lord of Cats however tells them that this part of the Hedge, as in the part he is present in, is his.

The Lord of Cats decides he will give them to fruits if they answer three questions truthfully. Nervously Marco casts his gaze into the future, asking what is the best choice here. He sees only darkness in answering the True Fae. They would be best served retreating and seeking the fruit elsewhere like at the Goblin Market.

Nikki reads Marco’s sign and politely declines the Lord of Cats’s offer. They leave quickly and respectfully.

In the end, Nikki trades the enchanted photograph for the fruit. Then she catches the flight to London with Miroslav. Using a new fake ID, she picks up the fake glass diamonds and plans her next step. She leaves her brother hunting through used bookshops and heads home to work on the painting that will pay for the final part of the scheme.

She finds the McQueen brothers busy building new devices. Wary of another attack they have moved the equipment to the Hollow. Along the way Rocco helped Marco alter a laptop to get a wireless signal within the Hedge. Nikki finds them playing on it amid the various new tools and scattered blueprints. She remarks that the number of blueprints has multiplied, something neither of the McQueens had noticed before.

Looking at them more closely, Nikki notes each has a unique model number and are signed with the initials EM. After she points out the obvious magic involved, Marco agrees to hold off on building anything more.

Miroslav returns a few days later triumphant. Book in hand he takes a cab to a hotel and crashes for the night.

He awakes in the middle of the night, sure someone is in the room with him. Calling on the darkness he clouds the intruder’s vision. He silently slips out of bed as a masked figure creeps out of the corner nearest the door. The intruder raises a scarred metal baseball bat as he approaches the bed.

Mir slips behind the figure and swings a lamp at him. The blow glances off his shoulder as he turns to swing at Mir. Miroslav ducks the swing and hits him full in face before retreating through the closet into the Hedge.

Mir glances back to see the figure hesitate at the Hedge gateway before it closes. The Darkling struggles to find a gateway out before calling his sister and the others.

The motley meets him and they return to the motel. As he gives them details, Charlie asks aloud why the Michigan Slugger wants to kill him. The serial killer has been murdering people for years but only recently has he targeted Changlings. They wonder how he even knew Mir was back. When it comes out the her brother was traveling and paying for things under his real name, Nikki gets her answer.

Looking over the scene, there isn’t much to find. They get some hairs that belong to the culprit and Mir’s stuff has been pawed through but nothing is missing.

They bring Miroslav up to speed on their own endeavors. He seems interested in the blueprints but Marco is resistant to selling a copy.

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