USW: Tip the World Over on Its Side

Session 46

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday afternoon, after work, Jones meets Kevin and Leah at Chakras to discuss plans. Having two leads on a ritual to finally close the Otherspace gate to Khalifastan, they ultimately decide to divide the labor and approach both targets. Kevin and Leah will drive to Las Vegas to meet with Brandon Frazier, while Jones will fly to Chicago to meet with Brian Lane. They make the necessary arrangements, and both parties are going to leave in the morning.

Leah also calls Bex to ask if she knows Dave Blankenship. She does, although not well; she’s never heard anything bad about him, but he gives her the creeps. They’ve met at one or two gallery showings, but she can’t say she knows much about him.

When Leah notes that she’s hanging out with Jones and Kevin, she invites Bex to come hang out. After spending time at Chakras, the quartet is joined by Jane to head to a jazz club for the evening, as something of a double-date, albeit with Leah in tow. It’s a lovely time.

The next day, Jones awakens early to head to Chicago by plane. He meets with Brian Lane at a South Side bar called Smitty’s around mid-day.

Brian is old, bearded, and tired. He claims he shouldn’t be drinking beer on account of his diabetes, but what are you going to do? One probably won’t hurt. They talk a little about Mabel — Brian claims she would steal away that girlfriend of his, were she a younger woman — before conversation turns to the Otherspace problem in Los Angeles. Brian notes that if Jones’ cabal is looking for some kind of ritual, he knows exactly the person who can provide it, but he can also guess what the price will be. His ritualist contact, a rare-book dealer in Chicago, took a bullet in the spine in a robbery-gone-bad about three years ago, and although she survived, she’s been unable to walk since. She’s been searching for someone to cure her paralysis; she’s apparently been seeking out the legendary Dr. Frakes — the old rumor is that he’ll cure any ailment for $1,000,000 cash, although Brian suspects “Dr. Frakes” is just another name for the Freak — with little luck. If Jones knows a fleshworker, or someone else capable of healing such ailments, that’s likely to be the price. Jones says he’ll have to make some phone calls, but he might know just such a person.

Before Brian leaves to try to make contact with this book dealer, conversation turns to the occult underground in general, and Brian decides to drop some cosmology on Jones. He notes that Mabel doesn’t believe this stuff — she doesn’t like the idea that we are not totally the architects of our own destinies, although Brian doesn’t think the views are incompatible — and Jones might not, either. But here’s the skinny.

Jones and his cabal are aware of avatars channeling the Archetypes, but one has to ask, what is the source of the Archetypes? How does the collective unconscious determine which concepts are important enough to merit inclusion? What is the process by which well-worn paths turn to magick?

Archetypes are created when a concept reaches a certain level of conceptual gravity in the collective unconscious. The Mother is a good example, because it’s so resonant: everybody understands what The Mother represents. Well, when the concept of “motherhood” became understood enough to merit inclusion, the Archetype of The Mother took shape in some place called the Statosphere, a place where statistics gain objective reality. But to embody this concept, the person most representing this concept goes up with it. The Archetype of The Mother, then, was once an actual person who embodied motherhood so much that she literally became a god.

The gods are the ones we make.

When any concept is important and universal enough in the collective unconscious to merit inclusion in this body of gods called the Invisible Clergy, the person best representing the concept at the time gets drawn into the Statosphere to become an Archetype. The cosmos, then, is a republican democracy writ large.

Incidentally, it is possible to stack the deck in someone’s favor if you have a particular candidate. If you provide enough symbolism around a given concept and a given person, you can ensure your chosen Archetype and your chosen representative go up into the Statosphere. Brian himself attempted this back in the 1960s. He tried to ascend as The Hippie, to bring a positive Archetype into the Statosphere. However, his symbolic attempts were trashed: first, Easy Rider deconstructed the hippie concept, and then the Tate-LaBianca murders turned the concept of the hippie murderous in the minds of the public. (Brian has always suspected the Manson Family usurpation of the concept was intentional.) His symbolism undone, Brian gave up the crusade.

Brian notes that someone else tried to do this back in 1999. An occultist named Simon Diulio, actually from the Chicago area, tried to hijack a plane in a bid to ascend as The Terrorist. He didn’t get very far before he was disarmed and jailed, however. (Jones remembers that event. The hostage situation on the flight lasted less than an hour, and led to some tighter regulations surrounding airline security and guns aboard flights. Turned it into some TV movie called Flight of Madness. Sadly it still wasn’t enough to prevent 9/11, though.)

There is another way to ascend into the Clergy, and that’s by challenging a sitting Archetype. Called an assumption, only the godwalker of an Archetype can attempt this. Assumption requires that the godwalker continue to embody the Archetype — otherwise they cease being godwalker — but that they redefine the Archetype as they do so. If you think The True King is outdated, and should more accurately represent a CEO or a political leader, then you starting pushing your symbolism in that direction. If your symbolic push moves the collective unconscious in a certain direction, then the old Archetype is cast out of the Invisible Clergy, and you and your shiny new interpretation ascend in its place.

Archetypes cast out of the Invisible Clergy pass through the House of Renunciation on their way back to the world, inverting their previous agenda. (Such former Clergy members are now just regular people again, albeit ones likely to have at least a little bit of magick and crucial insight into the workings of the world.) This appears to be the primary purpose of the House, in addition to taking people and inverting their agendas in the hopes of keeping humanity dynamic.

However, doing that declares war on the Archetype, which fights back with everything is has. The Invisible Clergy can manipulate probabilities, so they can ensure you have a heart attack, or get hit by a car, or audited by the IRS. The saving grace is that making an enemy of one Archetype usually means a rival Archetype is ready to render aid, and the two cancel each other out. (Although that usually creates wildly shifting probabilities around the focus of all this attention.) This sort of attention is typically only reserved for powerful people, such as godwalkers, who outright declare war on an Archetype; most of us are below the vast notice of the Invisible Clergy.

Incidentally, this manipulation of probabilities means that the Invisible Clergy can influence the world. Humans are still in charge of their destinies, and free will is inviolable, but the Invisible Clergy can make your neurons fire to have a particular thought (although you’re free to ignore it), or make you coincidentally bump into someone. Obviously, the world tends to be better if more Archetypes are positive ones.

Notably, the universe also reincarnates. When 333 members join the Invisible Clergy, the First and Last Man ascends to join them, and the universe is rewritten. (It’s possible that the First and Last Man ascends after the 332nd member joins, but that’s largely just semantics.) The 333 members of the Invisible Clergy determine the starting state of the next cosmos. It’s unclear what happens, whether the universe resets to the Big Bang, or if it continues to be 2011 but things are just different now and nobody knows. But if we’ve “elected” more positive Archetypes, then the next world is a better place. If we’ve “elected” more negative Archetypes, then the next world will probably be shittier.

Humanity is all there is. If there are space aliens, it’s because the previous iteration of the cosmos thought it was important for them to be there. Jones asks how this impacts evolution, but Brian doesn’t know if it matters. Maybe we start at the Big Bang and nothing mystical happens until life emerges and evolves into humans, or maybe the cosmos starts with the first humans and evolution is just a justification in the background. It’s not terribly important in the grand scheme of things.

Jones also notes that Kevin had a vision of the Invisible Clergy, and he saw some clawed, harpy-like figures. Brian suspects those are the cruel ones, possibly angels or creatures like the Furies of Greek mythology. They’re called the cruel ones because anyone has only ever heard about them from demons, and they police demons, grabbing them and hauling them back across the Veil. Demons, incidentally, are the opposite of the Invisible Clergy. Rather than the ascended form of the thoughts and aspirations of the sum total of humanity, demons are the descended forms of a single person. Most of the dead go beyond the Veil, and what happens next is unknown, but demons managed to return. They’re devoid of the standard limitations and impulses of humanity, having died in the throes of obsession. All demons are obsessed with something, and no matter how minor it is — it could be anything from psychosexual murder to spicy food — they are willing to lie or kill to get it. Demons lie habitually to get what they want. That’s part of what makes them so dangerous.

After dropping all of that on Jones, Brian notes that he’ll set about trying to establish contact with this book dealer. He’ll let Jones know one way or another, and he leaves.

Jones tries to call Felicia, and when he only gets her voicemail, he leaves a message. Then he sits at the bar waiting for a call from either Brian or Felicia.

Meanwhile, the drive to Las Vegas is uneventful. Kevin picks up Leah early in the morning, and the five-hour drive stretches to something like six-and-a-half hours because Kevin keeps stopping to help stranded motorists as part of his idiom. They otherwise arrive at the MGM Grand without incident.

They find their contact, Brandon, a bald Caucasian man wearing a Rammstein T-shirt. He has the intensity and vague pomposity one might expect of a ritual occultist. After Kevin and Leah reveal their problem, he notes he might have a ritual that works — it did nothing for him, but he assumed it worked on literal doors, not metaphorical ones like Otherspace crossroads. He notes that he cannot guarantee it will work, although he can guarantee that it isn’t a trap ritual that will open them for demon possession or anything like that. He would be willing to part with a copy of this ritual in exchange for a ritual he doesn’t have; Kevin and Leah know Jones has access to at least one ritual, which they note to Brandon. Not knowing whether he can part with it, they ask if they can call, and Brandon allows them to call their “ritualist.”

Jones is waiting at Smitty’s when he gets the call. He notes he has two rituals, one to make the mirror Willett used, and another that potentially identifies long-term spells on someone. Discussion with Brandon indicates he would be interested in these rituals, and so they all agree to contact each other again soon.

With that, Kevin and Leah begin the long drive back to Los Angeles. Strangely, Leah notes that Kevin has driven continuously without eating or using the bathroom this entire trip.

View
Session 45

Monday, March 14, 2011

The week is relatively quiet. Jones calls Willett on Monday to inform her about Rodney Sims’ potential class-action suit against [[Bonhams & Butterfields | Bonhams]] and the LAPD. Willett isn’t terribly surprised, and makes reference to the police officers involved being suspended or possibly fired pending an IA investigation, but thanks Jones for the information. (She notes that the officers who stood down in front of the people who caused the chaos at Leah’s auction all claimed that they felt the authority of the crooks outweighed that of their oath, that it came from a higher authority. They have been unable to explain such matters further.)

Tuesday, Webcrawler contacts Kevin to let him know Armenia4Lyfe420’s information: he is Gurgen Khachaturyan at 5600 Fernwood Ave, Unit 111, Los Angeles, CA 90028. He also provides Khachaturyan’s credit card information.

Kevin spends the rest of the week working, and also volunteering with the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition — part of his eventual plan to clean up city streets as part of his Flowing-Tree philosophy. As such, he is busy enough that he does not get to spend time with Bex, but maybe next week.

Leah spends her week going stir-crazy as she’s still supposed to keep a low profile. Jones works the 7 AM to 3 PM shift this week.

Friday, Jones, Kevin, Leah, and Felicia meet to discuss plans to meet Kelly Kapoor tomorrow. Leah has decided she’s going to accompany them, and it’s decided that Felicia, Jones, and Kevin will arrive as representatives, both to case the place and to keep Kelly at ease. Once that’s established, they’ll bring Leah inside.

To fully understand what they’re about to encounter, Jones calls Eli. Meeting at a sports bar, Jones inquires with Eli regarding the strange cabal at the heart of McDonald’s. Eli explains that he found a message board several years ago dedicated to some group called Mak Attax, and assumed the group involved was dosing McDonald’s food with LSD. Deeper investigation indicated that they were actually enchanting the food with magickal charges. Apparently, this is all with the very lofty goal of bringing about some sort of magickal renaissance by mystically awakening America using the existing fast food infrastructure — many fast food restaurants are along major highways, after all. Lurking on the boards actually got him a job at a warehouse for the time. He further explains that this cabal has infiltrated McDonald’s at multiple levels: some enchant food in the distribution chain, while most enchant food at actual McDonald’s restaurants. Oh, and they rarely refer to the restaurant by its proper name due to the inherent power in true names, instead preferring to use a euphemism like Mickey D’s or the Golden Arches. Eli also notes that it used to just be McDonald’s, but in the aftermath of the Whisper War, Mak Attax has spread its influence to other chains, but Eli doesn’t quite know which ones.

When Jones inquires about the Whisper War, Eli explains that several of the major cabals went to war with each other in the late 2000s. He doesn’t know much of the details, but the Sleepers, TNI, the Sect of the Naked Goddess, and Mak Attax all fell to in-fighting. They all apparently survived, but it severely altered their power structures. He doesn’t necessarily know why, and there are all sorts of rumors as to why it started.

After Jones manages to extricate himself from that encounter with Eli, he reports his findings to the others.

Saturday, March 19, Jones goes to work as normal, while the others prepare their days accordingly. Jones leaves straight from work, and is the first to arrive at the McDonald’s at 1575 E Highland Ave, San Bernardino, CA 92404. He waits for the others to arrive, sitting in his car in the parking lot. As 5 PM approaches, he notices an employee behind one of the cash registers, a young woman with blue-green hair, speak to her manager, disappear into the back, and return to the front of the restaurant in street clothes. She sits in the meeting place determined by Leah and the others. Otherwise, nothing is out of place.

Felicia, Kevin, and Leah arrive a little late, and Jones texts them to let them know that the woman they’re meeting is an employee. He meets them in the parking lot, and Leah stays in the car while the other three enter the McDonald’s.

Felicia and Kevin order while Jones introduces himself as a representative of the party to whom “Kelly” spoke. He seems to put her at ease as Felicia and Kevin approach, although he notes that her manager is lurking behind the counter and watching the proceedings. After everyone is settled, Jones signals Leah, and she enters, wearing a PETA shirt and a baseball cap drawn low over her face.

When “Kelly” recognizes the person who just entered, she squeals and runs over to hug Leah. Jones steps in to play the part of the concerned bodyguard, while Leah waves him away. When the manager realizes that his employee seems to actually know this person, he seems far less concerned than before.

“Kelly” asks if she can take a picture of Leah — perhaps strangely for someone her age, not a picture with Leah — and Kelly asks to exchange contact information so they can hang out. Leah, probably wisely, gives Kelly the burner phone information. Having forgotten to properly introduce herself in the interim, “Kelly” finally introduces herself as Shannon Brown. They finally manage to get Shannon marginally calmed and back to the table so they can discuss business.

Shannon indicates that she’s a member of Mak Attax, going by “Starlette” on the forums. Throughout her description, Shannon seems to casually assume that Leah and her cabal are well aware of these matters, and while Leah indicates she’s not on the Mak Attax boards, she does little to disabuse Shannon of this notion. (She also probably reveals a lot more personal information than she should feel comfortable sharing with total strangers in the occult underground, but again, she assumes she knows Leah well enough.) Leah repeats her request about a ritual to close a door, a gate to an Otherspace. Shannon personally doesn’t know many rituals apart from those needed for the Great Work — the dissemination of charges, what she calls Special Orders — but she knows someone who does, a Brandon Frazier out in Las Vegas. (He goes by “Augoeides” on the Mak Attax boards.) He’d probably know what they need or where to find it. She gives Frazier’s contact information.

During the course of conversation, Shannon also notes that this store has been having a bit of a problem. Some creepy photographer by the name of Lensman has been coming around, and apparently he must have gotten hold of a Special Order, because he’s now aware of the charge dissemination and has been extorting charges out of them. He’s taken pictures of the staff and threatened to damage those pictures like a voodoo doll; coupled with some other weird, creepy things he’s done, they have no reason to doubt he has the capability.

While the group discusses these matters, Kevin has quietly drifted into his own reverie, trying to scry on Lensman. Although he is too far away to use the holes, his own spells allow him to view the Lensman — a young, caucasian guy with dyed hair and stretched ears, treating images in a darkroom. Many of the images are just landscapes, but a few seem to be professional portraits, and at least a couple are creepshots, like people weeping by a car accident, or a woman recoiling in horror from a camera over the top of the changing room door.

Using that, he scries again, determining that Lensman lives in a little house at 156 W Olive St, Apartment A, San Bernardino, CA 92410. Breaking his reverie, he conveys this to Shannon and the others. Jones says they’ll look into it, and Shannon thanks them all profusely. Jones and Shannon’s manager exchange nods as the group leaves the McDonald’s.

Before they leave town, the group drives past Lensman’s house, finding the little stucco rambler with shuttered windows Kevin described. It’s otherwise in a relatively normal residential neighborhood. Satisfied, the group decides to leave to do more research.

Back in Los Angeles, Jones and Kevin both try to do research on the matter, eventually determining that Lensman is Dave Blankenship. They manage to find his photography website, and start contemplating a plan to gain access to him and his photographs. (Although Jones is concerned that destroying the photographs will have effects on the people depicted in them. Likely another matter requiring more research.)

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Session 44

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Jones has an uneventful afternoon at work. Kevin gets ready for his gathering he plans on having later in the evening. Leah logs onto an alternate Facebook account unconnected to her own and begins posting on her own fan page, trying to determine if any of her fans might have access to the kinds of rituals her cabal seeks. Operating under the pretense of a Leah fan looking for some sort of r/nosleep style occult game, she gets a few responses before being messaged by someone with the username Kelly Kapoor. This person’s account is totally locked down, with the only thing visible being their profile picture, depicting a neutral nature scene with minimal identifying features. (It’s highly likely it’s an image culled from the internet, rather than a photograph this person took on their own.) Back-and-forth conversation ensues, but this person eventually claims to have channeled Marilyn Monroe and learned the dark secret of “Mickey D’s.” (When asked, they evade what the ghost of Marilyn Monroe taught them.) “Kelly” asks where Leah is located, but she only reveals the West Coast. Eventually, “Kelly” reveals a willingness to discuss these matters in-person, and indicates if it’s possible, to meet at the Golden Arches at 1575 E Highland Ave, San Bernardino, CA 92404. Leah says she’ll be unable to do it within a day or two, but maybe next weekend? She asks about 5 PM on Saturday, which “Kelly” initially rejects, although when Leah pushes “Kelly” eventually agrees, but notes an inability to stay for terribly long. “Kelly” ends by saying it’s great to meet another Leah fan.

That evening, Kevin has his party. Among the standard beach crowd, Bex and Leah attend, as do Jane and Mabel. When she’s not taking pictures, Bex spends a fair amount of time talking to Kevin, and they end up making plans to perhaps catch a show later in the week. After Jane gets settled and fends off a couple of would-be suitors, Leah spends most of the night talking to Jane. She explains her encounter with Kelly Kapoor, and Jane notes — with some embarrassment — that when she first arrived in Los Angeles, she went on a date with Eli before determining he was nuts. But he made reference to a conspiracy in McDonald’s, and might know more about some of the some of the things she referenced. Otherwise, they talk and drink, and Bex likes the way they’re framed on the couch so she takes their pictures.

Jane leaves around 10 PM, sending a text to Jones to let him know she’s heading home. When he gets out of work, he sends one back saying that he’ll probably head to Kevin’s for a bit before coming home himself. He talks to people, largely taking the opportunity to talk to Otis since he rarely gets to do so. As Felicia and Leah started talking once Jane left, Otis notes to Jones that he thinks it’s good that Felicia has people to whom she feels comfortable talking. He asks if she has trouble making friends; Otis replies that she’s actually fairly gregarious, but she’s been through a lot, and finds it hard to trust people. Jones also hears about Leah’s encounter with a fan online before heading home himself.

Before she leaves, Bex and Kevin disappear for a walk on the beach. Bex and Leah leave when Bex returns to the party.

The next day, before work, Jane, Jones, Kevin, and Leah meet to discuss Kelly Kapoor. Felicia also enters the conversation; as the group decides it’s perhaps unwise for Leah to go herself, Jones says he can go in her stead, and Felicia agrees to go with him as the fan Kelly reached on the internet. Kevin says he might also be able to go, depending on the timing. Leah sends Kelly another message, asking if it’s all right if she brings people, and Kelly agrees.

Kevin also asks the assembled group about the prospect of calling his hacker contact to mess with the guy who shot him (and possibly get further information, enough to lead police to him). They advise him to be careful, but otherwise don’t have a problem with it. Although Jones notes that he’d probably need a lot of information to result in an actual arrest.

Monday, Jones gets Brian’s number from Mabel, and contacts him about the prospect of coming to Chicago in a couple of weeks. Brian says that would be fine; there’s an Irish bar that usually has acceptable beer and some sports game playing where they could meet. Brian tells Jones to let him know when his plans are more solid.

Kevin also contacts Webcrawler via Skype in the afternoon, finding out that he’s a young Hispanic man with a tattoo of a spider on his face and a strange patois, somewhere between Cockney and a Jamaican accent. He indicates that he can find the man Kevin seeks from his Xbox gamertag, but in return, does Kevin have any storage space? A shed or something like that? Kevin indicates he does, so Webcrawler says he’ll make plans to hit L.A. in the next few weeks and install some servers in Kevin’s shed, and possibly look for other real estate. “Nothing illegal,” he says. For this, he’ll be willing to do more for Kevin in the future. Kevin agrees, and Webcrawler says he’ll probably have the information Kevin wants within 24 hours.

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Session 43

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Before calling Willett, however, Jones, Kevin, and Leah finalize plans regarding the rogue Otherspaces that have appeared in Los Angeles, both the one in Kevin’s bedroom and Khalifastan in the grotto in Long Beach. They all decide to focus on Khalifastan first, and they consider the possibility of searching for a ritual to close the gate. Surely one exists somewhere, right? Leah plans on canvassing her social media followers for possible rituals, while Jones tries to call Mabel, although he gets no response. They also discuss the possibility of dealing with local Merchants to find what they want; even though things ended poorly with Edna, they think she might be the best option, as she’s not terribly powerful yet, even if she is predisposed to dislike them. With this decided, the trio parts company.

While driving to work, Jones gets a phone call from an unknown number. When he answers, it’s Mabel, sounding significantly older than normal, like perhaps she’s playing up her age. She seems strange and curt in her responses, which Jones quickly surmises to be the result of an intruder listening to the conversation, which she obliquely confirms. He says he’ll be over as soon as he can.

He lets Kevin and Leah know that Mabel’s in trouble, and they both decide to head in her direction. Jones also calls Willett to let her know that a friend is possibly in trouble, and could she arrange a welfare check? She agrees, and he tells her to wait twenty or thirty minutes, just in case they’re not needed.

Kevin gets there first by cutting through yards and pedaling like a madman, and he finds a secluded place to observe the house. Everything seems normal, but after a few minutes of watching, a very disheveled old woman wearing an old house dress and carrying a sledge hammer walks out the front door. There are no signs of violence on her, and she just walks down the sidewalk until reaching the beach, when she turns and starts heading up the beach.

Meanwhile, Mabel calls Jones to let him know she’s fine, and the intruder is gone. He indicates he and his friends are still coming over, and he calls the others to let them know the danger is passed. Kevin conveys what he saw, and Jones explains that he’s still coming over. Jones also calls Willett to cancel the welfare check.

As such, Kevin decides to go to Mabel’s house, and she is surprised to see him so quickly. She invites him inside, and says she’s fine, but she’ll explain further once everyone arrives.

When Jones arrives, he manages to sight between two houses and sees an old woman with a sledgehammer watching Mabel’s house. He stares her down for a bit before knocking on Mabel’s door. They wait for Leah to arrive, and once she does, Mabel explains that was Red Claire. She hadn’t heard anything of her in over three decades, so she assumed Claire was dead, but apparently she’s not. Based on what Claire was saying, she came from the Otherspace on Long Beach, and came to ask if Mabel knew who opened it. (When asked how Claire knew how to find her, Mabel said this is the same house she would have owned back then.) Jones notes she’s still around if they want to inquire further. Mabel warns them that she’s potentially dangerous — some manner of Communist sorceress, Claire was always grubbing for valuable objects, ostensibly to destroy. Notably, Mabel once saw her take a gunshot and heal it by “giving” it to her attacker; Leah remarks that she redistributed the wound. With that in mind, the four of them head up the beach to meet her, although Jones and Mabel both have their pistols close at hand. They find her walking away, but they catch her attention and invite her back to Mabel’s house to discuss these matters. She agrees.

It takes some digging, but she admits she made the Otherspace as her personal utopia, a masterwork of magickal skill, although she refuses to admit how she did it. She notes that a group of five kids came through a couple of weeks ago, looking for a friend of theirs, and based on their conversation, they came from the “real” Los Angeles rather than Angeliy. It took her some time to find the source of the gate, but she wants to know why it opened and how to close it. Kevin apologizes, and says he thinks it’s his fault, but he’s trying to figure out how to close it. Claire seems displeased, but satisfied with the explanation, and she admonishes them to close it. She leaves, and everybody breathes a collective sigh of relief.

Mabel notes that the power necessary to permanently craft an Otherspace is enormous, probably requiring a major charge. She does not know what Claire needed to destroy to gain such a charge. She also notes that Claire has apparently inhabited Khalifastan for thirty years or so, so she was unaware of cell phones and other such developments — that’s why Mabel called Jones on her house phone, by the way.

Jones also brings up the prospect of closing the Otherspace gate with a ritual, and Mabel notes a couple of sources she knows. The Merchants in town could probably help, as could the New Alexandria Library out near Chicago. That library trades functioning rituals for rituals, and you have to prove the provenance of a ritual by enacting it, although plenty of disreputable types have defrauded the New Alexandria Library by enacting some phony ritual and then using some adept spell or avatar channel to perform an uncanny effect. (Some well-known rituals that are difficult to enact, like the Unspeakable Servant ritual that requires you to sacrifice an eye, are just accepted on word alone.) During the course of this conversation, Mabel also learns that Kevin is an adept, apparently to her chagrin.

With a few more avenues to explore, and Mabel apparently safe for now, Jones leaves to go to work. Kevin and Leah both leave shortly thereafter, although Kevin notes he might have some people over tonight if Mabel wants to join.

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Session 42

Monday, March 7, 2011

That afternoon, Kevin receives a knock at his door. He sees Rodney Sims — wearing a foam collar and a sling on his left arm, and walking with a cane — on his porch. Kevin answers the door, and after exchanging pleasantries, Rodney inquires if he can have contact information for Leah. He indicates his previous contact reached her offices, but he has a bit of business he wishes to discuss with her directly. Kevin calls Leah, and after some back-and-forth — Rodney does not wish to discuss terms over the phone — they agree to meet at Chakras tomorrow afternoon.

The next day, Felicia, Kevin, and Otis head to San Francisco for a few days. Kevin also hopes to meet up with Old Hippie Tom, whom he heard was also in San Francisco for a few days.

Leah meets Rodney at Chakras, and after making introductions, learns that he wishes to file a class-action lawsuit against [[Bonhams & Butterfields | Bonhams]] and the LAPD. To do this, he will need the contact information for all those present at the auction and ensuing riot. Since it’s untoward to give him all that personal information, he notes that this can all be done through lawyers. Leah agrees, and gives him the necessary contact information.

The next several days are fairly quiet. Felicia meets Kevin and Otis’ San Francisco friends, and Kevin manages to catch up with Old Hippie Tom. He asks him a bit about the pipe, and then purchases what Tom calls some “killer Thai stick” for use with the pipe. Jane and Jones continue their vacation out in the mountains. Leah continues to lie low in the aftermath of the riot, although she stays in contact with her lawyers throughout the week. Since she’s likely to go stir-crazy in her house, Bex comes over to spend the week with her.

Felicia, Kevin, and Otis are back in L.A. by Thursday, March 10. Kevin calls Leah to inform her that he wants to use the map and the pipe, and that he obtained supplies to that end. When Bex hears that Kevin is coming over, she runs home briefly to change into something cuter, over which Leah gives her no end of grief. Leah also hangs psychedelic art around her living room to distract from the strange poster meant to be paired with Tom’s pipe.

Felicia, Kevin, and Otis arrive in the evening, and proceed to smoke the weed Kevin obtained in San Francisco out of Tom’s pipe. After about fifteen minutes or so, the lines on the artwork seem to twist and writhe and shift whenever viewed. Continuous viewing almost seems to draw the viewer into the artwork, revealing a symbolic path through flames into the rolling hills and castles of Hollywoodland. The path seems to confirm what Kevin already knew about access to Hollywoodland, and so he wishes to check it out in the near future.

Later, Kevin and Otis end up night-surfing; Bex and Felicia decline, as neither brought a bathing suit, although Kevin manages to give Bex some rudimentary instruction, largely as an excuse for the two of them to flirt. Felicia and Leah talk some about magick, as Felicia reveals that she finds Leah’s YouTube videos about transformation really resonate. She explains she used to be a cutter, and she found there’s power in the blood. She says she still has some juice leftover from when an intruder entered the house — since Leah never heard about the man from the Otherspace in Kevin’s bedroom, Felicia proceeds to relate the incident — and she displays this to Leah by instantly changing her hair color and then changing it back. Leah talks about the intersection of order and chaos and how they come together to form the world, and Felicia notes that marks Leah as a proponent of the Moorcock Hypothesis, which she proceeds to expound at length.

Eventually, as dawn approaches, Felicia, Kevin, and Otis head home.

Jane and Jones return on Friday. That afternoon, Kevin contacts Jones and Leah, and they all agree to meet at Chakras tomorrow around noon, before Jones has work. (Kevin also uses the opportunity to ask Leah if it’s okay if he asks Bex out; she begs him to keep her out of the occult underground, but otherwise doesn’t have a problem with it.) That evening, Jones decides to finally call Clothesline. After exchanging pleasantries, Jones has Jane move into frame, and Clothesline seems stunned. After some good-natured ribbing, Clothesline says he’ll have to meet up with them if he’s ever stateside. And to bring Leah.

The next day, everyone meets at Chakras to compare information. Kevin explains that they’re fairly certain about how to access Hollywoodland, although the group wonders if they ought to handle the Otherspace situation first. Leah explains that Rodney contacted her about a class-action lawsuit against Bonhams and the LAPD, and Jones notes he should probably call Willett.

View
Session 41

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Three men, wearing ski masks and trench coats, and wielding guns — two carry shotguns, while the third carries a pistol and a duffel bag — make their presence known when the man with the pistol fires into the air. He indicates that no one will be harmed as long as they cooperate, and the police have not abandoned the group here, but have instead been called to serve a higher authority.

Leah is still sitting at the front of the room, as she’s acting as the master of ceremonies, while Kevin invokes the Flow to ensure that nobody notices him while he observes from the back of the room. From their respective vantage points, they can see that Rebecca has surreptitiously checked her phone, and looks far more annoyed with that than the current proceedings. The Hispanic man that was trying to buy the boxes has also quietly checked his phone.

Leah is the only one with the vantage point to notice that three East Asian men — she’s fairly certain they were busboys or other help from the Asian fusion catering company — have crept into a side hallway, and appear to be waiting for something.

The man with the pistol then elaborates that he has need of the box at the front, currently up for auction. As he and his cohorts move forward, the Hispanic man grabs his folding chair and sneaks behind them, shouting for everyone to, “Get down!” and swinging the folded chair at the last guy in line, but missing and clattering the chair against the floor. From his point of observation, Kevin suspects the man deliberately missed.

Things only go downhill from there. The man with the shotgun fires at the Hispanic man and misses. The Hispanic man pauses for a moment, apparently in deep concentration, then starts screaming. The man with the shotgun starts backing up. The other two gunmen watch the proceedings with interest, guns drawn.

In the confusion, one of the Asian guys dashes from his hiding place, grabs the boxes, and dashes back as the Hispanic man takes a wild, panicked swing at the shotgunner. He connects this time with a loud crack, and the guy fires his shotgun, inflicting a massive wound in the chair-wielding man’s side. Leah shouts that the Asian guys are stealing the boxes, prompting them to bolt as the man with the pistol and the duffel bag gives chase. The other shotgunner, currently in the middle of the throng, advances toward the stage, but stays in the room to keep an eye on everyone, and the growing melee in the center.

A disheveled-looking man appears at the main entrance of the room, watching the proceedings with interest. The Hispanic man takes another wild swing and connects, and the shotgunner throws his hand up. Another small series of wounds, possibly bullet or shrapnel wounds, opens on the Hispanic man’s torso and sends him staggering backward. With no sound or source, other than the shotgunner’s outstretched hand, it is clearly unnatural, and causes the already-edgy crowd to explode into chaos.

The next several minutes are composed by a desperate flight through hallways as a maddened, screaming, shoving, destructive crowd proceeds to rage around them. Leah tries to hide, and after determining painfully that there is no safe place to hide in this building, attempts to flee. Kevin, on the other hand, flees up into the upper stories of the building, finding them largely unoccupied until he runs into

Jones?

Shortly after leaving [[Bonhams & Butterfields | Bonhams]], Jones thinks better of the decision, considering that he left his comrades with Rebecca, and he doesn’t know what she’s likely to do. He turns the car around, and even manages to find parking out front where he’s greeted by a bizarre sight.

Several police officers are milling about out front, guns drawn, but are standing in some apparent indecision. Jones says he’ll be back, and as he leaves, Jane climbs into the driver’s seat. Already aware something strange is happening, Jones goes for a side entrance and is met by the maddened crowd. He manages to circumnavigate the rioters and duck into the building, running through empty hallways until he finds the crowds and Leah. He leads her outside before doubling back up a fire escape and gaining access to the upper story. There, he runs into Kevin. He receives a phone call from Jane, indicating things are getting dangerous out front, and he tells her to drive around back.

Jones, Kevin, and Leah manage to make it out back, although the crowd is spilling out behind them. Leah is nearly-inconsolable because her family is still inside, so Jones piles them into the car, tells Jane to get out of here, and runs back inside. Jane hesitates, but when it’s clear they’re going to be engulfed by the rioters, she starts driving for a nearby hospital, Southern California Hospital at Hollywood. Leah cannot get in contact with anyone as her phones are smashed, and Kevin’s burner phone for Detective Willett is smashed, although his personal phone still works.

Jones, meanwhile, manages to make his way through the crowd until he finds BJ, Jasper, Melker, Pam, as well as Bex, Lorenzo, and Melker’s family. Jasper seems amused to see Jones, as the man keeps intervening to save his family, and between Jasper and Jones, they manage to usher everyone outside and into a waiting car. The car also starts heading to a nearby hospital, Cedar Sinai Medical Center.

Jones calls Jane to let her know that Leah’s family is safe, and she conveys this to Kevin and Leah.

When Leah gets into the hospital, she starts making demands, and demands to see her plastic surgeon, Dr. Frank. She continues to make demands until the doctors begin to treat her and find cause to put her under sedation.

Jones contacts Detective Willett to let her know about the riot and the potentially-strange factors at work that caused it. He does not know the full details. Jane goes back to Jones’ house, briefly, to shower and change, but otherwise spends the evening with him before going back to his house to sleep.

Kevin lets Otis and Felicia know that he’s in the hospital again. He emphatically does not want his parents to know.

That night, Jones is awakened by a nurse in his room, whom he swiftly surmises is Rebecca in nurse’s scrubs. Her face is notably bruised. She proceeds to congratulate him on whatever trick he pulled to free Jane, although she has a hard time conveying the thought, as he immediately takes a swing at her when he sees her. She manages to scramble out of his way as he advances on her, stumbling out of his hospital bed and swinging at her all the while. She finally leaves, chuckling. Jones calls Jane, awakening her, and letting her know that Rebecca just stopped by his room, and so he doesn’t know if she’ll try anything at his house.

The news the following day suggests the rioting continued for almost four hours before it was finally brought under control. Fires destroyed twenty-two buildings, including the Bonhams auction house, and although the figures are preliminary, the damage is assessed at roughly $22.3 million. Fifty-five people were seriously injured, and three fatalities were recorded: Alexander González, former baseball player for the Tampa Bay Rays, and apparently the Hispanic man who fought the attackers with a chair; Anita Lewis, a camera operator for E!; and a John Doe believed to be one of the gunmen.

Having been treated, Jones, Kevin, and Leah are all discharged to make room for more serious injuries. From Cedar Sinai Medical Center, Jones ends up getting a ride back to his house with the Fitzroys in their hired car. Given the events of the past several days, Jane and Jones decide to get away to the mountains for the next day or two — Jane notes that she’s apparently on vacation until Wednesday, and the receptionist at work claims to remember Jane telling her this. Before they leave, Jones does look for Alex González, finding that he was fired from the Tampa Bay Rays over some poorly-defined spat with his bosses. He disappeared for a few years before reappearing in the public eye as the owner of a successful casino in the American Southwest.

From Southern California Hospital at Hollywood, Kevin gets a ride back to his house with Leah’s hired car. Felicia, Kevin, and Otis sound like they’re still going to stick with their plan of heading to San Francisco, probably first thing tomorrow morning. Leah, on the other hand, has work to do.

View
Session 40

Thursday, March 3, 2011

They wrap up the discussion with Leah’s assertion that she’ll contact Clark. Jones is concerned that this is all part of some ploy by Clark to enact a trope — something to make Jones go all Taken on Rebecca or some such. To make it less obvious, she’ll call several people on her list with last-minute inquiries about their items, just so this appears to be a routine matter. After she leaves, Kevin awkwardly hangs around to make certain Jones is okay until he is finally certain Jones wants to be alone.

Kevin receives a phone call from Jimmy lessthanthree Brenda, indicating that he only just received his scrying back on Leah, but she’s clearly already returned. He also indicates that he found a hacker, a fellow in London called Webcrawler, and tells Kevin that he’s Webcrawler54 on Skype. He’s supposed to keep somewhat odd hours, though, so the eight-hour time difference probably won’t be a big deal.

As Leah prepares to call people on her auction list, Jimmy lessthanthree Brenda calls her, as well, letting her know that Kevin asked him to scry on her, and he just received the results. He saw her in New York City, and L.A., but that’s largely it.

Leah then begins calling people to ask for last-minute details regarding their auction items. Eventually, she arrives at Clark. She calls on the pretense of trying to get more information about the jewelry boxes, and he indicates there’s not much more than he’s already said — according to the estate agent from whom he bought them, they belonged to Jayne Mansfield, although he’s never authenticated or opened them. He indicates he heard about Leah’s misadventures in New York, and she indicates that something strange happened. He asks if they should meet to discuss things in person, and she agrees. They agree to meet at a coffee shop within the hour.

Before leaving, Leah calls Kevin to let him know where she’s headed, in case something bad happens. He expresses doubts about Rebecca’s motives, particularly since they know little about her other than her claim to be part of the Sleepers, and he wonders if she’s part of the Sect of the Naked Goddess having captured Jane for some nefarious purpose. As such, he warns Leah, “It might not even be Clark, it might be her cult of sexiness.” To which she replies, “Okay, if Clark grows tits, I’ll run.”

Leah meets Clark at a café, and she discusses how she met a homeless man in New York City and ended up following him to wherever her father was hiding, and how Jones helped them return. She inquires further about the boxes, and so Clark makes a confession: they’re not Jayne Mansfield’s jewelry boxes. Two are mundane boxes, but one contains all knowledge in the universe; a good way to go mad, but potentially useful to the right person. There are three of them as a shell game, a bit of misdirection to make them harder to track. He’s just trying to offload them through a secure channel so that they are away from him. After some conversation, she excuses herself to the restroom, calls Jones, and asks him again about how she ought to proceed, as she doesn’t think Clark is directly involved. Jones doesn’t trust him, but leaves it to Leah’s judgment about how much information to give Clark. She thinks a while on it, and then returns.

When she returns, she indicates that they have a problem. Jane’s been kidnapped. Clark recommends they find a more secure place to discuss this, and Leah asks if Clark’s home is free. He says it is, although he’s not sure if it’s secure. He recommends taking a walk outside, an old Mafia trick to avoid electronic surveillance, and Leah agrees.

Once outside, Leah explains that Jane was taken by someone named Rebecca Payne, about whom they know little other than she’s very scary. (Although Clark notes he’s hardly trifling, either.) As ransom, Rebecca has asked Jones to retrieve the boxes. Since this is his fault, Clark says he can fix it; he can use the summoning spell he previously mentioned to Leah. Jones shouldn’t have to do anything, other than meet him backstage at the auction. However, he doesn’t know how perturbed this Rebecca woman will be, and recommends Jones and Jane get out of town for a few days; Jones should be ready to leave immediately after he exits the auction house. Pay in cash, if possible. Clark will worry about Rebecca while he’s gone. He asks if Jones is being watched, and Leah says she doesn’t know. He quickly writes his instructions in a note and tells Leah to deliver it to Jones and destroy it afterwards.

Leah leaves Clark’s place to go see Jones. When she arrives, he’s been busy searching through the house in case it’s bugged, although he hasn’t found anything out of the ordinary. They communicate without speaking, by passing Clark’s note back and forth and writing messages on it; Jones is willing to abide by Clark’s instructions, but he recommends everybody skips town in the aftermath of the auction. Jones then burns the paper over his stove.

When Leah leaves, she contacts Clark to let him know everything is in place, and then returns to work on auction stuff. She also investigates if Lorenzo is heading anywhere in the next few weeks, and learns he has a photoshoot in the Czech Republic in roughly a week. She inquires if they might go a week early, and Lorenzo is on board.

Jones calls Kevin to let him know he ought to leave in the aftermath of this thing, whatever it is, and he asks where Jones is headed. Jones replies he’s headed east. After the conversation is complete, Kevin thinks on it and texts Jones on Willett’s burner phone to let Jones know he’ll be headed north.

Jones, annoyed that Kevin didn’t specify the secured line the first time, quietly revises his itinerary.

The next few days are busy, but subdued. Jones is sure to suggest at work that he might be gone for a few days early next week. He also packs clothes for him and Jane, also including cold weather stuff. Kevin suggests to Felicia and Otis that they get away to San Francisco for a couple of days, and they readily agree. Rodney Sims, introducing himself as an associate of Kevin Spring-Day, contacts Leah about getting auction tickets, and she directs him to the right people.

On Sunday, March 6, everyone is getting ready for the auction. Leah is at [[Bonhams & Butterfields | Bonhams]] in the morning, but everyone else begins appearing in the afternoon. Jasper, Pam, Mel, Mel’s wife and son, BJ, Bex, and Lorenzo are all in attendance, as are Jones and Kevin. Of note, Brigid, Clark, and a rather put-upon Edna are all in attendance. Later in the cocktail hour before the auction, Leah catches sight of Rebecca, apparently having come in the company of Robert Evans. She makes certain to greet Leah, and Leah makes certain to point her out to Clark.

When the auction begins, Clark meets with Jones and asks him if he wants to go backstage. They meet by a side exit facing an alley, and Clark props open the door so he can smoke. He proceeds to say that Jane probably isn’t worth all this trouble, and that she’s definitely been stepping out on Jones with half the L.A. occult underground. He says a few more nasty things about her before pausing and sighing, possibly at the sound of footsteps echoing in the alley. He then says, “She’s right behind me, isn’t she?” as she runs into view.

She grabs Clark and begins to explain that she’s escaped and needs help until she realizes that she recognizes him. He merely nods with a simple, “Jane. Jones and I were just talking about you.” Bewildered, she looks to Jones, and runs into the room to embrace him. Clark admonishes them to be careful, and Clark and Jones exchange nods.

Jones leads a somewhat confused Jane to his car parked out back, and they begin driving heading along Sunset Blvd. Jones explains what happened, and Jane indicates she was able to cause some tension between her guards to make good her escape. She says she’s fine, just angry; she wants to go back and punch Rebecca in the face, but she knows that won’t actually help anything. She’ll just try to rest for now.

Meanwhile, the auction proceeds in earnest. Being lesser items with a low starting bid, the lot with the jewelry boxes occurs early in the program. Kevin moves to the back of the room and invokes a spell to cause the gazes of those within the room to flow around him. When the bidding starts, a few people in the room pick at them, but the bidding largely comes down between Robert Evans, bidding for Rebecca, and an unknown Hispanic man — perhaps of Cuban ancestry? — whom neither Kevin nor Leah recognize. Every time Evans makes a bid, the unknown man exceeds it without flinching. Leah notes that Rebecca quietly seems increasingly perturbed, and that she also appears to be quietly scanning the room, probably for Jones.

Finally, the bidding stops, as Evans refuses to spend too much on these jewelry boxes. As the auctioneer is about to announce that they will go to the Cuban man, the proceedings are interrupted when three armed gunmen rush into the room.

View
Session 39

Monday, February 28, 2011

While still recuperating at the commune, Kevin’s mother tells him he has a visitor. When Kevin goes out to greet him, he finds a well-dressed man who introduces himself as Rodney Sims. He tells Kevin he saw him in a dream and so came this way. He proceeds to ask Kevin if that possibility jibes with his understanding of the world, and when Kevin says it does, Rodney proceeds to ask about what he knows about this strange world. Kevin obliquely describes a couple of things he’s learned, but Rodney determines this is good enough and reveals he didn’t actually see Kevin in a dream, but he wanted to test to make certain he knew about the occult underground. Rodney proceeds to explain that he’s from a business consortium out in Guthrie, Oklahoma. H. J. Whitley built Guthrie, and Rodney and his associates revere the man, whom they considered the godwalker of The Opportunist. (Rodney further intimates that he is an avatar of The Opportunist.) Rodney has heard that Kevin may have had access to the Whitley Folio, and if he does, Rodney would be interested in seeing it. After some back-and-forth, Kevin eventually explains that he managed to take a look at it for a day, but doesn’t have it permanently, although he knows the man who has it. Rodney explains that he would be interested in obtaining it. If Kevin gets the book, would he be willing to let Rodney know? He and his consortium can no doubt come to some mutually beneficial agreement regarding its transfer. (For that matter, Rodney’s fine with Kevin holding it while he completes whatever his goals are; he just wants it when Kevin’s done.) Satisfied, Rodney gives Kevin his business card and takes his leave.

Kevin also continues messing with Armenia4Lyfe420 in Xbox Live during the rest of the day.

When he awakens, Jones notes he has a Skype message from Clothesline, asking to call him on Skype so he can meet Jones’ girlfriend. He further hopes that Jones got home all right. Jones spends time running errands and thinking about potential gutter magick ritual options to close the Otherspace gates in L.A.

Leah continues finishing up her activities in New York in preparation for coming home tomorrow to complete auction preparations. Melker is traveling with her; the rest of the family will return to Los Angeles later in the week.

The next day, Jones calls Kevin to discuss the particulars of trying to close the permanent Otherspace gates. They review what Kevin knows about the weird Soviet L.A. on the other side of the Venice Beach gate, but this devolves into an argument about how to handle it, and they end up hanging up on each other. Jones then goes shopping for gutter magick components before recalling that The Dealer was looking after him and deciding to call him back. He calls The Voice, and makes arrangements to meet The Dealer at a nearby coffee shop.

When they meet, The Dealer indicates his call is no longer valid — he was trying to contact someone over the weekend to assure them that he had nothing to do with Leah’s disappearance, and he’s subsequently heard the good news. As per most dealings with The Dealer, Jones leaves in a huff.

Leah returns to L.A. from New York City, but when she arrives home, she finds a box and map case on her coffee table. She opens the box to find her old pipe, and expects the map case contains the poster; she immediately calls Jones, annoyed that The Dealer came into her home. He indicates he just spoke with him, but she says there’s no need to talk to him again, she just needed to vent. She thanks him and calls Kevin to let him know that her items were returned. He’s interested in using them, but she wants to wait until after the auction in case they are immediately transported to Hollywoodland.

The next day proceeds with everyone continuing preparations for their various activities. Kevin leaves the commune to return to his house. Jones takes Jane out to dinner before he has to go to work on the night shift.

Jones returns to his house at about eight in the morning. He opens the door to find Rebecca Payne, sitting in one of his chairs, waiting for him. A cell phone sits next to her hand. He asks what she’s doing in his house, and she indicates that there is a set of three jewelry boxes on the block at Leah’s upcoming auction, donated by a Mr. Douglas. Jones is to retrieve them for her. She instructs him not to open them, for his own safety. Jones asks what’s in this for him, and Rebecca dials the phone next to her, telling whomever answers to, “Put her on.” Jane’s voice is briefly heard, admonishing Jones not to give them the satisfaction of anything, before she’s cut off, her voice muffled, and Rebecca announces that’s enough and hangs up. She explains no harm will come to Jane if Jones retrieves the boxes and delivers them to her. She does offer an alternative, however — she has access to a ritual that engages both participants in a ritual contest of wills. The winner symbolically devours the loser; she would be willing to let Jane go if she enact this ritual with Jones. After all, if Jones wins, she’s gone, never to bother him again; she won’t even leave a ghost. On the other hand, she expects he has information that would benefit her. He does not agree to this contest, instead saying he’ll get the boxes. How will he contact her once he’s found them? She tells him not to worry, that she’ll find him. And of course, if she catches a hint of police involvement…

Jones tells her to get out, and she leaves. He takes a moment to collect himself, then calls Kevin and Leah, explaining that Jane has been taken. Kevin makes it over in record time, having engaged in some crazy stunts to beat traffic, and seems tired but much more energetic than normal. Leah arrives after he does, and when both are there, Jones proceeds to explain his encounter with Rebecca and her demands. Leah notes that Clark donated the jewelry boxes, which are supposed to have belonged to Jayne Mansfield, but have never been opened for obscure reasons. One apparently still has jewelry inside, while the other two are empty; all three are locked, and Jones questions why no one has ever unscrewed the hinges to see what’s inside. Leah says she can surreptitiously inquire more about the boxes, among other objects, so Clark doesn’t get suspicious.

View
Session 38

Sunday, February 27, 2011

It’s very rudimentary, but Jasper seems to be going with the story that he needed time away, and this was all a misunderstanding. Leah seems to be laying the blame on Iggy, indicating that she didn’t tell anyone where she was going because she thought Iggy would hurt them if he knew she knew where Jasper was. Jasper suggests he was staying at an old vacation home in the Catskills, and Leah agrees — somewhere she would know how to find.

When Jones returns to see what Jasper and Leah have determined, he decides to inform Jasper of the situation so that he can be adequately prepared. Jones very obliquely explains that there is a secret society of people based in symbolism that tricked him into going to Algiers. He can’t tell him more than that, and he knows Jasper is unlikely to believe it, but it’s important he knows. Leah adds a bit to it, but after saying his piece, Jones returns to the front of the plane while Sage catches a couple hours of sleep. Once he leaves, Jasper, apparently angered by this, asks Leah if she’s dating Jones. He accuses her of performing some gambit that Jasper cannot fathom to convince Jones to spin that insane and extremely cliché conspiracy story. He further remarks that if it’s untrue, she can tell him right now and he’ll let the matter drop, but if she persists in this lie and he finds out, he’s going to have to cut her funding if she cannot be trusted. Leah, deeply upset, says she’s not lying, and they spend much of the rest of the flight in awkward silence.

Eventually, Jasper, Jones, and Sage determine that they’ll drop Jasper and Leah at LaGuardia in New York, and then return Jones to National in DC. Jasper tells Sage that he’ll take care of her fee. When they land, Jasper and Sage take a moment to discuss terms, and while they’re off discussing business, Jones asks Leah what’s wrong. She explains that Jasper thought she was lying and was very angry about it. Jones apologizes, but says that Jasper has to know in the hopes that he can react if something happens.

Once business is settled, Jasper and Leah agree to walk a few blocks away from the airport before hailing a cab so that it does not appear as though they just arrived from the airport. Jones wishes them well, and they set off. Jasper thanks them both, and says he’ll be in touch.

Sage then flies Jones back to DC. She says that she’ll see to it his bag is delivered back to his hotel room in Vegas. She also gives him a piece of advice — in Algiers, he mentioned a girlfriend. When he gets to a place where it’s safe, he should call her; Sage says this as both someone who has waited for someone and as the person who has caused the waiting. He thanks her. He gets on his flight, arriving back in Las Vegas in the late evening. He checks his room, and finds his bag on the bed. He picks it up to note that the weight is different and some container of sloshing liquid inside; he carefully checks the bag to find a bottle of Suntory’s Yamazaki 18 scotch inside, along with the other things he previously packed. He’s intensely suspicious of this, but takes his bag regardless.

Once he checks out, he gets in his car. After debating Sage’s final advice for several minutes — did she recommend calling his girlfriend to track her somehow? — he decides to call Jane. When it goes straight to voicemail, he hangs up and begins driving.

Meanwhile, Leah calls Mel to let him know that they’re in Queens, and that she found their father. She asks him to send a taxicab, and they wait. When the cab arrives, they begin driving back to the New York Hilton Midtown. As they approach, Leah already sees the paparazzi grouping around the front; she tells the taxi driver to circle the block and calls Mel to arrange for someone to open a side entrance for them to avoid the press. As they pull around, she feels some measure of the symbolic power she has amassed as a celebrity fade. She notes she feels physically ill, and Jasper, misunderstanding, says it will be all right, and he apologizes for yelling at her earlier.

Once they make their way into the hotel, they are reunited with friends and family — Pam, Mel, BJ, Bex, and Lorenzo are all there — before being assailed by federal investigators and representatives from E!, all of whom appear to believe their story.

Before heading to the commune, Kevin calls Jimmy lessthanthree Brenda to see if he can track Armenia4Lyfe420 and find his actual identity. He says he can’t, but after some thought, he can probably get in contact with someone who can. He says he’ll be in touch.

He then heads out to the commune. As predicted, Felicia, Mabel, and Otis join. To Kevin’s surprise, Jane arrives in the evening, although she heads home early as she has work in the morning.

Jone arrives back home after midnight, and inadvertently awakens Jane. She’s glad to see him, and they drink the expensive bottle of Scotch he received while he describes his trip. Jane also notes that The Dealer came around over the weekend, although she didn’t answer the door and so doesn’t know what he wanted.

View
Session 37

Friday, February 25, 2011

Kevin fully awakens to find that his mother has stayed. He largely tries to take it easy, and finds, to his consternation, that he can’t reach Jones. Particularly unfortunate as he can’t fully recall the conversation from last night.

That afternoon, Felicia and Otis visit. Felicia and Otis exchange knowing glances, and Otis invents some excuse to take Kevin’s mother aside and talk to her. While she’s gone, Felicia goes to work, peeling off Kevin’s bandages, warning him that, “This is going to be a little weird,” and then driving her fingers into his skin. It’s not wholly unpleasant, but it is the unique sensation of having someone rifling through your flesh like gelatine. When she withdraws her hands, he realizes most of the pain is gone. She explains that she had some leftover juice from when the Otherspace military guy attacked.

His mother returns none the wiser, although Felicia and Otis share a look that acknowledges whatever just occurred.

The following day, when Kevin is examined, they are shocked at how much progress he’s made. They’ll keep him an extra day to monitor him, but otherwise, they’re likely to release him on Sunday. He attempts to peer through the holes on Saturday, and successfully manages to spy one of his attackers. The man appears to be holed up at home, playing Xbox; Kevin manages to spy his gamertag, Armenia4Lyfe420, and makes note of it, as he’ll do something with that later. As Kevin’s condition seems stable throughout Saturday, and he feels fine, they release him Sunday morning.

He heads home first, plays a bit of Xbox — finding a Call of Duty match with Armenia4Lyfe420 so he can play the part of the clueless newbie gamer to annoy the hell out of him and his friends — and then calls some people to gather at the commune tonight. It sounds like it will largely be the regulars with Felicia, Mabel, and Otis in attendance.

Despite having only briefly conversed with Abdou, Leah has a sense that he’s seen plenty of weird things in his day, a haunted look that has become increasingly familiar to her over the past couple of months. As such, she decides to take a chance and intimate to him that she did not arrive normally, but through the magickal intervention of a stranger. As such, they probably shouldn’t head to any embassies or consulates, not right away. Unfazed, he agrees, and confirms with Leah that Jasper doesn’t know about these sorts of things. He then says he will discuss alternate strategies with Jasper.

After a brief conversation with Jasper, they agree to go to a cybercafé where Leah will try to contact her associates by email and see if that elicits a response. After heading south to the Library Multimedia Abane Ramdane, she sends an email to Jane and Jones’ mobile numbers, indicating that she found “him,” and that he is exactly where they thought he would be. She and Abdou then return to the compound to wait.

Saturday, Leah, Abdou, and a small group of others leave so she can check her email again. They note they are being followed by a dark-skinned man — Sudanese, maybe? — in a turban. Once he confirms that she is present, he appears to dial a cell phone and leaves. They otherwise make it to the cybercafé unscathed checks her email again, and finds an email from Jones, indicating he’s headed her way.

Sunday morning, she heads out one more time to check her email.

Jones heads to work on Friday, letting his coworkers know he’ll have to take some time off to visit an injured friend over the weekend. When he leaves work, he buys a burner phone with cash, and then heads home to gather his things and hit the road. He leaves a note for Jane and starts the drive to Las Vegas. He establishes contact with Sage, and they agree to meet in the lobby of the Bellagio. She indicates she has heterochromia of the iris, and so should be easy to spot. This sets Jones on edge, as he vaguely recalls the rambling homeless man from the previous night saying something about a sinister man with “bi-colored eyes.”

After a relatively uneventful five-hour trip, Jones arrives at the Bellagio on Las Vegas Boulevard at roughly 9 PM. He turns off his cell phone and leaves it in the glovebox, instead relying on the burner phone he purchased. Investigating the lobby reveals a woman reading a newspaper. She’s perhaps a little more put-together, a little more attractive than one might expect of a mercenary, which somehow also puts Jones on edge. Jones introduces himself, and further explains his situation. He indicates he wishes to leave as soon as possible, and she says they can leave tomorrow. He asks about a good place to get whiskey, and she says she has a bottle in her room. Still suspicious, he politely declines.

The next morning, they make arrangements. When she learns he has a firearm with him, she indicates they’re flying to D.C., and then taking her plane the rest of the way, so he’ll likely have to leave some things here. Thinking better of it, she tells him to take anything he doesn’t want to bring on a commercial plane and package it; she’ll make certain it arrives at their final destination. Jones places his gun and some other equipment in a duffel bag, and gives it to her. On the way to the airport, Sage asks the taxi driver to stop at the nightclub Delphi’s over on Fremont Street. She runs the bag to the doorman, and returns to the cab. The rest of the journey to the airport, and then to Washington, D.C., is uneventful.

It is clear that money exchanges hands between Sage and some of the customs officials, and before they board, they are met by a man with an Afro who has Jones’ bag. They then board a private jet for Algiers.

About eight hours later, they arrive. The journey is uneventful, although Jones determines that Sage served in the Air Force in Afghanistan, and met Clothesline through the standard VFW grapevine. She fell into the merc thing like many do: it’s too hard to return to a totally normal life after the military. Once they arrive, they meet Clothesline at the gate, and he indicates he has someone on the ground who spotted Leah. She was seen in the vicinity of the Casbah district, so Jones decides to head in that direction. He’s fairly certain he knows which direction to go, when suddenly—

He spots her. Walking across a crowded square. She also happens to glance at him and looks both shocked and relieved. Jones tells his party they’ve found her; Sage seems somehow annoyed or disgusted at this turn of events, but doesn’t say anything. The two parties meet and everyone returns to the homeless camp.

As others have, Jones cannot help but notice that Jasper appears to have accidentally gathered a court around himself. Again, Sage seems somehow annoyed at this prospect, but Clothesline takes it in stride. Jones introduces his companions to Jasper, and indicates they’ve come for him. Jones brought changes of clothes for Jasper and Leah, so they prepare. Jasper says he needs to make some arrangements with Abdou, and then he can leave. They discuss matters for a time while Clothesline, Jones, Leah, and Sage talk. Leah mercilessly flirts with Clothesline in the meantime.

Once Jasper has finished making arrangements, they’re ready to go. He indicates that Abdou will take care of things around here, and in a month or so, he’ll probably make a trip back to retrieve Abdou as his assistant, likely also sending money to help the local homeless population. Abdou, in Arabic, begins informing the homeless people about what’s happening, and the people seem to pay some manner of homage as they leave. They wander back to the airport, Sage gets everyone through customs, and they bid their farewells to Clothesline. As Leah and Clothesline are still flirting as they leave, Jones interjects with a comment about his hot girlfriend, and Leah agrees, noting that she’s wearing one of her dresses. Clothesline yells after them that Jones can’t leave him hanging.

They manage to board and takeoff successfully, and Jones leaves Jasper and Leah to figure out what story they’re going to tell the press.

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