USW: Tip the World Over on Its Side

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.

On Sunday, March 6, everyone is getting ready for the auction. Leah is at 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.

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.

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.

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.

Session 36

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Jones is interrupted by the glare of a flashlight, and a man’s voice asking what’s wrong. Jones turns, seeing a police officer standing in the alleyway. He explains that he encountered this homeless man, and as he turns, he notes that the strange man is gone. He finishes up his explanation, and since nothing seems out of the ordinary, the police officer lets him be.

Once the officer leaves, Jones tries the fire door to find it locked. He then finds the coat he purchased and the man’s begging bowl, and proceeds to fold the coat and place the two objects in an out-of-the-way place in the hopes that the man will later retrieve them. He then calls Bex (under the pretense of congratulating Leah), and learns what he already suspects — Leah disappeared after talking to a homeless man outside their hotel in New York City. Bex seems shaken, but notes that the police are involved, and she’s sure they’ll find Leah. Jones tells her to keep him posted.

Jones makes a couple of calls to some of his Air Force buddies, trying to track down an old contact, Clothesline. After the action in Somalia, Clothesline stayed in Africa, moving westward and taking odd jobs as a mercenary and pilot. Jones’ friends say they’ll get him in touch. He also calls Jimmy lessthanthree Brenda, telling him that Leah is missing and asking if he can track her down. He says he can, although given that she’s on another continent it might take several days or weeks for him to determine where she is. Before he heads home, he calls Jane to recount his experience, and the fact that Leah might be on a different continent, and says he’s coming home. Jane says she’ll call Mabel to see if she can learn anything further.

By the time Jones arrives home, Jane indicates she hasn’t learned anything of relevance, but Jones has received Clothesline’s Skype handle. He explains the situation to Jane in a little more detail, and then decides to contact his friend. Contacting Clothesline, Jones explains he has a couple of friends stranded in Africa, probably with minimal supplies and no passport. Clothesline says it’ll take a couple of days to get out there, but if he can get a little more information, he can probably get eyes on this person. Jones says they’re probably in Algeria, and that he can send more detail descriptions shortly. Jones also muses on the possibility of coming to Africa himself to see this through, and Clothesline recommends a person stateside with similarly eclectic employment. He says he can get contact information to Jones shortly. Jones thanks him and says he’ll be in touch.

After logging off, he receives a message from Clothesline indicating his contact is one Sage Price, followed by a phone number with a Chicago area code. He calls and reiterates his missing friends and his need to get to Algeria. She says she prefers to do these things in person; if he can make it from L.A. to Las Vegas, she’s there frequently for work, otherwise she’ll have to make an appointment to meet him in Los Angeles. He says he’ll be in touch.

Jones discusses these matters with Jane, and asks if there’s anyone she might know relevant to this situation. She doesn’t, although she notes the cult she met in Las Vegas had a strange tie with synchronicity. Rosie might be able to help. Jones asks if she wants to be indebted to any of her former cabalmates, and Jane notes she probably doesn’t.

Kevin finds himself in a grand hall watching a chess game in progress. There are many robed, masked figures moving about an elaborate chessboard, a massive edifice with tiers and slides. The pieces are varied and strange — one player moves an army of hamburgers across the board that seem to meld with other pieces, while another combines pieces into an elaborate pyramid. At the head of the table is a cage where three more of these robed, masked figures sit in judgment. (At some point, he sees some robed figure try to surreptitiously move pieces out of turn, and these three figures — feminine figures vaguely visible under their robes as they move — emerge from the cage and descend on the player, ripping it apart with sharp talons. There is no blood, however; only a tattered robe remains. The trio then returns to their cage.)

Kevin’s attention is drawn to a figure wearing a mask resembling an English explorer with a pith helmet, but carved of wood in an African tribal style. At one point, the figure pushes its mask aside to scratch its face, revealing Kevin’s face underneath, but later in the match, it adjusts again and it’s someone else entirely.

The action on the board that holds Kevin’s interest appears to be a man wearing a mask that looks like James Dean with various piercings over on one side of the board. This figure takes a piece that resembles a microphone stand and a piece that looks like a male figure in a broad-brimmed hat, and brings them to another side of the board, where the figure in the James Dean mask and another figure in an iron king mask engage in a complex series of moves and countermoves involving a small figure of a king, a figure with a bullhorn, a shouting figure with its fist raised to the sky, and a figure behind some manner of podium. The king then brings the figure with the broad-brimmed hat back to the other side of the board, where it briefly interacts with a figurine resembling an airplane before it’s moved again and Kevin loses track of it. The airplane figurine moves to a figurine that resembles a nun. There also appears to be a figure close at hand that is tipped on its side and resembles a surfboard.

Kevin awakens in the hospital. After getting a hold of a nurse and encountering his parents — and encouraging them to not stay here the whole time — he calls Jones. He describes his dream in minimal detail to Jones, mentioning the chessboard and the players, the three taloned figures, the pieces that he expects represents them and other events, and “the African carved-style Englishman monocle Victorian dude” with his face. Jones dutifully writes it down, and eventually Kevin hangs up as he’s drifting off to sleep.

Leah contemplates her next move. Caught between commotion in one direction and the sea in another, she decides to head to the sea and the monuments in the hopes of finding some sign of her father. Along the way, she encounters a grinning beggar with North African features and begins explaining her predicament. The man apparently does not understand English — he responds in what sounds like French — but beckons her to follow him. He leads her through the streets until coming to a tangle of abandoned buildings; a couple of homeless men hang around outside, almost appearing to guard the place. The beggar evidently explains something to them, and one of them enters the building, returning with a bearded man. Also bearing North African features, he speaks English with an Arabic accent, and asks her to explain herself. She again explains her predicament, indicating that she’s looking for her father, and explaining that she’s Leah Fitzroy, his daughter. The man excuses himself for a moment. Shortly thereafter, Leah hears a brief commotion inside, followed by a familiar voice exclaiming, “Of course it’s my daughter!” Bearded, and wearing threadbare clothes, Jasper Fitzroy emerges from the building.

Leah and Jasper embrace, and he asks if something happened to Melker. She says he’s fine, and Jasper invites her inside. It appears that this abandoned building has been converted to some manner of homeless camp, although Leah can’t help but notice that it looks as much like a king’s court as a homeless shelter, particularly given Jasper’s tent at the far end of the room. Jasper asks what she’s doing here, and Leah starts crying, explaining how Iggy lied to him, that whatever he thought was happening isn’t. There’s no danger, and he should just come home. Jasper explains that Iggy showed him evidence that his previous accountant was cooking the books, and that giving the business to Pam and leaving was the only way to keep his family safe, otherwise the impending legal cases would destroy them. He asks how much Iggy stole, but Leah explains that he didn’t take anything; he just gets off on ruining people’s lives. Jasper then asks about the morning he visited Leah at home, and asks if Iggy gave her the black eye. She refuses to answer, prompting Jasper to remark that he’ll kill Iggy. He further laments that he fell for such a scam, and that he expects he wouldn’t have if Robin were still alive. He praises Leah for finding all this out, as it’s likely what Robin would have done, although he notes with some amusement that she probably wouldn’t have run off half-cocked to North Africa to find him.

Jasper proceeds to explain that he was lucky to run into Abdou, the man to whom Leah spoke earlier. Leah asks about the commotion when she arrived, and Jasper says Abdou erroneously thinks that someone could be impersonating Leah, although that seems very unlikely in Jasper’s mind. Before Jasper came to Algiers, there was apparently another man running this homeless camp, but he died in the riots that have swept the southern part of the city, and so Jasper has been organizing in his stead. They try to provide a safe place for the street people, and make certain that everyone pools their resources in the hopes that there will be enough for everyone. He indicates that he destroyed his false identification when he entered the city, but they can head to the American or French embassy tomorrow and he can send word back to the U.S. to request his documents. Leah lies and claims that her luggage was stolen, along with her identification, but Jasper says Abdou can take care of it. He speaks with him briefly and then sends him on some errand. Regardless, it should all be handled on the morrow. Jasper also sees to it that Leah gets a set of clothes to make her less conspicuous.

Leah sleeps poorly that night, and is aware that Abdou returns a couple of hours later, giving some whispered information to Jasper. The next morning, the various beggars in the building get breakfast together, evidently some manner of porridge or soup, and begin serving for everyone. Jasper indicates that Abdou was unable to retrieve Leah’s things, but they’ll head out after breakfast to sort everything out at the embassy. While he’s busy, Abdou sits across from her. He apologizes that he was unable to retrieve her stolen goods, noting that it was odd that they weren’t being fenced in any of the usual locations. Doubly odd that there is, in fact, no record of her entering the country on a flight manifest. When she asks how he would have that level of access as a bum, he notes that he wasn’t born homeless. He further remarks that Jasper is a great man, greater than Leah knows.

Session 35

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Leah is interrupted from her evening routine by a knock on the door. When she checks, it appears to be The Dealer, albeit by himself and holding a leather portfolio. She answers, and he notes that he heard she is headed to New York City. While she’s there, would she be willing to undertake a task for him? He explains that he needs a few documents delivered to an address in Greenwich Village, and he’ll be willing to pay in return. Leah asks to give her five minutes, and she calls Jones, who happens to be wrapping his hand after his ritual attempt. After some back-and-forth, they decide on asking for the map and pipe sooner than previously established. When Leah again answers the door, The Dealer is walking away. She calls out to get his attention and expresses her terms. There’s a bit of back-and-forth where he makes certain he still gets tickets to the auction, and Leah puts The Dealer on the phone with Jones to make sure everything is fine, but they agree. The Dealer will make certain the objects are delivered, probably while she is away, and in exchange, she’ll deliver the papers without looking at them. He gives her the address and leaves, although Leah still has the sensation of being watched. She recalls that she has felt this before regarding The Dealer — about a month ago, she felt the same sensation in the morning before she was set to meet him at Chakras. Although she can pinpoint the presence, she cannot get the presence to react to her in any fashion, and it appears to never stop watching her. She eventually ignores it, and continues about her evening.

The next day, Jones and Kevin go to work while Leah gets ready for her flight. That afternoon, while Kevin is out making deliveries in San Pedro, he notices that he is being tailed by a nondescript car. Four people ride inside — Greek, maybe? — and as Kevin notices them, they give chase. He cuts through an alley onto a mostly-abandoned side street, but they manage to cut down another side street and catch up with him. The car screeches to a halt a few feet from him as the passenger tries to aim a gun; the first shot misses, but the second catches Kevin in the chest. He tries to pedal away, but the car moves after him, and decides to stop running and try something. He tries to concentrate, but is unable to muster the will as the car barrels to him; as the three passengers lean out of the windows to take aim, however, he hits the driver with his spell surf Nazis must die, the feeling of a wave dashing one against the rocks. The driver twists and floats in his seat, as scrapes appear across his body and he spits blood. Two of the guys with him panic and flee the car while he floors the accelerator; the last man in the car returns fully to the car and buckles his seatbelt.

Left in the street, Kevin tries to pedal until he realizes he’s too tired for it. He tries to call Jones and Leah, but unable to reach either of them, he calls Jane, who says she can get in contact with Jones. He then calls 911.

Jane pages Jones at work to give him the news. When he calls back, she’s already left work to head to the hospital. She admonishes him to be careful and tells him she loves him before they hang up.

The rest of the afternoon is a mad scramble. Kevin is taken to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center on 1000 W Carson St and brought into surgery. Leah is in the security line when she hears the news, but has to catch this flight, so she admonishes everyone to be careful, and to keep her informed. Jones heads to the hospital when he gets off work; Jane and Mabel are already there when Jones arrives. Jones also calls Detective Willett to make certain she is aware of the situation.

While discussing matters, Jane and Jones remark on the phone call with Kevin, and Mabel notes that his “Greeks” might be Armenian, as the Armenian Power gang is known to work with the L.A. Rats. Jones also thinks to call Otis, so he can pass the news along to Kevin’s parents. Otis is shaken, and says he’ll be right there.

Eventually, Dr. Angela Joseph comes out to talk to those assembled, saying the surgery went well. The bullet apparently grazed Kevin’s lung, but he appears to be stable and resting comfortably now. She says she will keep everyone informed. With nothing further to be done, Jones takes people out for drinks.

Having arrived in New York on a cold and rainy February evening, Bex, Leah, Lorenzo, Melker, and Pam get situated at their accommodations at the New York Hilton Midtown, and then Bex, Leah, and Lorenzo go out for dinner and drinks. Leah uses this as a segue to deliver her package; explaining that she has a brief errand, they take a cab to Greenwich Village. The address given appears to be a basement office under a deli; Leah knocks on the door and a woman answers, asking Leah to enter briefly so she can confirm delivery. Standing in the waiting room, Leah notes that the receptionist’s desk is protected by glass and wire mesh. The receptionist heads into a back room, and after a moment, returns without the portfolio; Leah also notes the feeling of being persistently watched is gone. The woman says everything is in order, and Leah leaves.

As she’s heading back out to the taxi, she hears movement behind her as a bum shuffles out of the alley. He says something about “the gamma soldier sojourns,” but she moves quickly to avoid him. She catches a glance of a rotund, bearded figure as the cab drives away.

After dinner, when Bex, Leah, and Lorenzo arrive back at the hotel, Leah notices the same bum outside her building, even though it’s the Millennium Hilton in the heart of downtown. He rouses, and indicates that she’s the daughter of the Chymical King. This catches her interest, and so she tells Bex and Lorenzo she’ll be along in a moment. Bex stays behind to watch the scene, making sure Leah is all right. The man proceeds to ramble about how the Lizard King and the Chymical King battled, but the Lizard King won and the Chymical King became the Exiled King. But the man claims to know where he went, and that he can take Leah there. He stands and gathers his things — a stick and a begging bowl labeled, “War Veteran, Please Give” — and begins wandering off toward an alley, his hand absently behind him. Leah hesitates, but takes his hand and follows as he turns down the alley.

When she exits the alley, the rain has stopped, and the night is darker, warmer, and drier. The sounds of the city have changed; the ocean is nearby, and angry voices can be heard somewhere up the block. She looks around the see the closely-packed, low buildings indicative of old world architecture, although a modern cityscape can be seen over the low buildings. When the old man hears the angry voices, he turns, screams, and goes running down the street in the opposite direction. Leah chases after him, but he manages to round a corner and is gone.

After drinks, Otis leaves and Mabel says she can get Jane home. Jones goes wandering, looking for people to help so he can keep to his plan of protecting the streets. He doesn’t find much in the way of violent crime, but he does help a couple of people with stopped cars and other such minor troubles. While walking, he happens across a homeless man with a begging bowl labeled, “War Veteran, Please Give.” He lets him be, but goes to purchase a coat to replace the man’s spattered, threadbare one. He folds the coat and sets it next to the man while throwing some change in the bowl, which rouses the man. He begins rambling about the daughter of the Chymical King and how she’s gone to find him, that “she’s in tomorrow when she should be on today.” Jones eventually surmises that he’s talking about Leah, and that she’s somehow in Algiers, although it’s difficult to get the man to reveal further information amidst his ramblings. Eventually, he gets spooked and tries to run away at something Jones says, but as he’s about to try to go through a fire door in the alley, Jones gets him to stop with a forceful shout of, “HALT, SOLDIER!” Jones continues to try to get information out of him, but the man seems too fragmented to give anything terribly meaningful, and he eventually breaks down crying at the interrogation. Jones crouches down with him, putting his hand on the man’s shoulder in solidarity.

Session 34

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Dealer needs to make a couple of phone calls before he takes Jones and Kevin to view the Whitley Folio. Leah has other business requiring her attention, so she takes her leave. Once The Dealer has finished his calls, he bids Jones and Kevin to step into his waiting limo.

Inside the limo, he establishes a couple of ground rules. No recording is permitted; they can keep their cell phones, but they should be in full view to ensure that there is no tampering. Note-taking is allowed, as some people study best that way, but The Dealer either gets to keep the notes or they can be destroyed at the end of the session. People on-site will arrange travel, food, and bathroom breaks; if someone leaves outside these parameters, they will not be allowed to return. Jones asks if he can keep his gun, and The Dealer is hardly surprised; he says that’s fine by him.

After driving across the city, they arrive at Extra Space Storage (8250 Foothill Blvd, Sunland, CA 91040). Several Vagos Motorcycle Club members linger outside, with a few more lingering around next door at the Where Else Bar (8234 Foothill Blvd, Sunland, CA 91040). The Dealer says the bikers will be providing security and arranging transport for them. The Dealer takes them inside to a storage facility. He opens the door, revealing a table, a few chairs, and a cot. A battered ledger sits on the table. The Dealer then takes his leave, admonishing the bikers to shoot Jones and Kevin if they cause trouble.

As The Dealer leaves and Kevin goes to work, he feels a subtle yet strange sensation accompanied by a brief adrenaline rush as he loses or forgets part of his prowess at navigating the Holes; evidently, The Dealer has borrowed part of his ability as per their arrangement.

Under the watchful gaze of the Vagos bikers, Jones and Kevin get to work. Kevin, for obscure mystical reasons, never tires and never takes breaks, to the mild consternation of Jones and the bikers. Jones, on the other hand, has to stop by the nearby diner and bar a couple of times to go to the bathroom — he notes that one of the stalls has been graffiti’d several times, including one scribbling of “GAMMA SOLDIER SOJOURNS,” to which he writes his own affirmative statement, hoping to provoke a response — and get something to eat. He also makes use of the cot for a couple of hours before work Wednesday morning.

The Whitley Folio appears to contain several hand-drawn maps and scribbled notes, as well as personal and technical journals detailing H. J. Whitley’s development of Hollywood and the Los Angeles area. It becomes increasingly clear that he is mystically aware, making reference to various esoterica regarding his building projects and the incorporation of important artifacts in the creation of a mystical grid encompassing Hollywood. It appears that this grid was designed to slowly spread and encompass Los Angeles as the area became increasingly incorporated. Importantly, this grid is meant to facilitate transmission to Whitley’s personal magickal demesne, an Otherspace he calls Hollywoodland designed to resemble some manner of pastoral England. He claims the death of his first wife and child by fire were accidental, but that he has leveraged those painful sacrifices for his own mystical use in creating this domain; it can be reached by burning a drapery (red seems to work best) over an open doorway. So long as the flame is started by an electrical source tied to Los Angeles’ power grid, the door will briefly form a gate to Hollywoodland. The same method can be used to return to Earth; any fire started in Hollywoodland evidently counts as being connected to Los Angeles’ grid for the purpose of this ritual.

Whitley also makes several references to being guided to his destiny by visions from a realm or entity he calls the Statosphere. He also makes a few references to something called the Invisible Clergy, or simply “the Clergy,” although he defines neither of these terms in enough detail to provide any illumination.

Most notably, Kevin does not think the Whitley Folio would give him any additional information regarding how to use his ability to manipulate the L.A. grid, how to close the open Otherspace gateways currently extant, or how to otherwise access Hollywoodland apart from the ritual described by Whitley. As such, he suspects retaining the Whitley Folio permanently is probably unnecessary.

While Jones and Kevin examine the Whitley Folio, Leah receives a call from her lawyers, indicating that they have received word from E! Entertainment that they, in turn, are aware of her auction preparation and they want to send a camera crew to cover it. As part of the lead-up, they have arranged for her to be on Today to talk about the auction. Would she be able to fly out to New York Thursday afternoon, to return to Los Angeles Friday evening? E! will handle the travel arrangements. Leah indicates she will, and the lawyers say they’ll need to call the other family members. Leah spends the rest of the afternoon calling Bex and Lorenzo to let them know and inviting them over for an impromptu celebration, as well as going back-and-forth with the lawyers to ensure they can come to New York, as well. By the end of the day, it sounds as though it will be Leah, Mel, and Pam on their way to New York on Thursday, with Bex and Lorenzo in tow.

Wednesday morning, Jones takes a cab back to his car and heads to work while Kevin finishes his survey of the Whitley Folio materials. Once finished, he also arranges transportation back to his house and spends most of the day jotting down notes and writing down any relevant pieces of research. He also speaks to Leah, letting her know that he and Jones are all right, and she tells him about her news. That afternoon, after Jones leaves work and buys an aquarium and goldfish, the trio arranges to meet and discuss matters.

Leah tells her news about being on Today Friday morning, as well as a camera crew following her around for auction preparations on March 6. Kevin and Jones reveal what they’ve learned regarding the mystical grid of Los Angeles and the Otherspace of Hollywoodland. They all seem to agree that they do not need the Whitley Folio, and resume discussing how to close the open Otherspaces and how to best access Hollywoodland. For Hollywoodland, Kevin recommends using a notable L.A. location like the Plummer House or Leonis Adobe on which it sits, but Jones notes that would likely require breaking into the location and setting an open fire, both of which seem unlikely propositions when they could just build a door frame out on the beach or something. Discussion goes back and forth for a while before all parties decide they’ll come to some consensus at a future time, likely after Leah returns from New York. As for the Otherspace gates, Kevin notes that he can close them, but he needs to symbolically align the traffic city to enhance its flow. Jones asks if this is why he feels to need to stop and assist stopped traffic, and Kevin replies it is. The group is unable to help Kevin determine a good way to assist traffic without either switching jobs or getting arrested.

That evening, Leah goes to a hair appointment to get ready for tomorrow’s journey. Kevin goes around Los Angeles, scouting locations he can surreptitiously assist. Jones attempts his Back Monkey ritual, concentrating and cutting his hand to bleed into his new fish tank. The ritual appears to not work, as the blood diffuses into the water with no further effect.

Session 33

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A few minutes pass before Felicia, Jane, Jones, Kevin, Leah, and Otis spot Willett’s car returning. When she steps out of the car, she notes that she forgot something, and is trying to avoid writing anything down. She asks if Jones is part of a gym — he is not — and she recommends joining Hollywood Gym (1551 N La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028) as it’s a twenty-four hour gym and would therefore make an excellent dead drop location. She gives Jones a combination padlock and tells him the combination is “28-13-24,” and that he should practice it a couple of times to memorize it before she reclaims it. When she determines the locker number, she’ll text it to him. Jones asks if it’s a nasty gym, but Willett explains that it’s fine, it’s just out of the way. Once Jones is comfortable with the combination, Willett leaves again.

Jones and Jane go for a twenty-minute walk around the property, while Kevin goes to see what’s happening with Chief Bug. Shortly thereafter, the group gets back in their cars and heads back to L.A. The rest of the day is relatively quiet; Jones sleeps, but gets a membership to the Hollywood Gym before he heads to work. Kevin lets Jane and Leah know that he’ll probably fire up the grill tonight; Jane comes over, as does Mabel.

Sunday, Jones receives a text on the burner phone reading “#108.” Kevin looks to see if there is any sort of volunteer work he could do to help the city’s flow, but there isn’t anything substantial enough for him to use. Leah continues auction preparations.

Jones goes to Hollywood Gym on Monday and checks locker #108. Inside is a gym bag, containing a typewritten note indicating these things are from their mutual friend from the other day. This is accompanied by several pages of typed notes written on an old typewriter describing two rituals — one to construct the mirror Aaron Diaz used, and the other allowing the ritualist to detect enchantments placed upon him or her. Otherwise, the day proceeds quietly for everyone.

On the morning of Tuesday, February 15, Kevin reports to the Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse in Long Beach. Kevin is called before the Hon. Ross M. Klein, a Caucasian man in probably his fifties or sixties. Klein notes that in his eighteen years as a public defender before ascending to the bench, he never quite saw anything like this. Kevin puts in a guilty plea, receives a $50 fine, and an admonishment to never return to Klein’s court again. Otherwise, the day proceeds quietly for all involved.

Around noon on Wednesday, Jones, Kevin, and Leah all meet The Voice at a local Starbucks to discuss terms. Kevin again expresses his interest in learning what the King’s Court knows about the holes. The Voice indicates that his understanding was that Kevin would want to investigate the Whitley Folio, and in exchange, might be willing to investigate the Otherspace beyond on behalf of the King’s Court. Kevin now indicates that he would rather be his own man and do something more freelance for the King’s Court, and The Voice retorts that if the Court has the Whitley Folio, it sounds as though it may contain all information they require about the Otherspace beyond, so why do they need Kevin? Kevin notes that he has a more intuitive grasp of the holes, but The Voice asks why he wants to see the Folio if he has all he needs? Additionally, since The Voice is literally the King’s messenger and beholden to tell the truth, he is not necessarily the man to ask about these matters, as he doesn’t even know if the Whitley Folio is in the Court’s possession. The cabal probably wants to talk to The Dealer, although they seem averse to doing so. After a bit of this back-and-forth, Jones interrupts, noting that it sounds like they need to find more information, and thanking The Voice for his time. They leave, and The Voice chuckles as they do so.

After leaving, they discuss these proceedings, and Kevin remarks that The Dealer has three objects: the pipe, the map, and the Whitley Folio. As it sounds like they now have to deal with The Dealer, they discuss that avenue. After a significant amount of back-and-forth regarding how each entity in the Court operates and whether or not they’re independent, they decide to contact The Dealer. Kevin calls The Voice, and indicates they need to talk to The Dealer. The Voice recommends that Kevin talks to The Dealer on stronger negotiating terms than he did with The Voice, and that Kevin figures out a time. They all eventually decide on 10 AM Friday, and The Voice says he’ll contact The Dealer and see if that works. The trio then discusses how they should negotiate this. During this discussion, The Voice calls and interrupts, indicating that The Dealer can meet at Kevin’s house at 10 AM on Friday.

Afterward, discussion continues, with Jones and Leah trying to get at the essence of what Kevin wants out of these negotiations. Leah gives him a primer on haggling, and they decide he should probably go for ownership first so that he can haggle down to at least a day’s access. Ultimately, it will probably come down to an impromptu agreement at the negotiation table, depending on whatever people are willing to give at the time. Eventually, everyone takes their leave, figuring they’ll see each other on Friday.

Once Jones is at work, a creeping realization over the past week and a half finds purchase as he realizes that the few people who met Jane at Dan’s Superbowl party don’t agree on what Jane resembles; he’s overheard people having disagreements about whether she resembles Salma Hayek, Mariah Carey, or Jennifer Tilly in the same conversation. When he has a break, Jones calls Leah to ask what Jane looks like. Leah remarks that she has a bit of an Eva Green thing happening — curvy, big eyes, pale, dark hair. Jones notes that she appears to look different to everybody, and so Leah asks the relevant question: how does she appear to Jones? He’d say that she appears similar to how Leah described her, but blonde.

On Friday, February 18, Jones, Kevin, and Leah are all gathered at Kevin’s house when The Voice knocks on the door. He asks if they would want to ride with The Dealer, or if he should enter Kevin’s house; the trio asks that The Dealer enters. The Dealer, flanked by two suited-guards, enters, as does The Voice. Three of them decline coffee, although The Voice accepts a cup. Kevin indicates that he wants access to the Whitley Folio, and he is probably the only person who can use it. The Dealer retorts that, assuming he does have the Folio, he would have had it for several weeks and may not need Kevin. Jones notes that The Dealer clearly doesn’t know about the open holes to other dimensions. They deign to show him, trekking up the beach to show him the cave to another dimension. Kevin and one of The Dealer’s goons go into the cave until they can see the beach on the opposite side. They return and the suited man reports to The Dealer what he saw. Jones and Kevin note that this portal could cause big trouble for the King of Scales, although The Dealer notes that it sounds like a problem for the Sleepers. They retort that marauders from other dimensions are assuredly the King’s problem, and since Kevin might be the only person to sense them before they become trouble, it’s probably worth assisting him. The Dealer says he’ll have to do more research before returning to the negotiating table, and so they trudge back up the beach toward Kevin’s house.

On the way back to Kevin’s house Leah tells The Dealer that the auction will be on March 6 at Bonhams & Butterfields auction house. The Dealer notes that Edna will be attending the auction in his stead. He leaves.

Jones, Kevin, and Leah head back into Kevin’s house and are discussing the proceedings. Jones asks Kevin if he can find him a fish tank, but that conversation is interrupted by a knock at the door. Kevin peeks to see a well-dressed Hispanic man, holding a smartphone. After a brief discussion, Kevin opens the door and the man flashes a badge indicating he is Lawrence Torres, an agent of Homeland Security with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Jones also recognizes that he is currently fiddling with the GNOMON app on his phone. As such, Jones asks to see his badge, saying you hear about all sorts of scams these days. He then notes that he’s spent some time on the GNOMON app — Torres’ demeanor changes to one of recognition, and perhaps, a bit more ease until Jones continues that he hasn’t been able to get it; he thinks it’s an art project? Torres demeanor again changes, and he dismisses the previous thought, returning to his more professional demeanor. He minimizes the GNOMON app. Jones then heads into Kevin’s bedroom while Torres asks Kevin about the shootout on the beach.

Kevin notes that somebody broke into the house, and left while he was trying to call 911. Torres asks for details, determining by description that the man matches the description of the composite sketch of the man wanted for questioning. Is this the same man? Kevin answers affirmatively. Torres then asks if there was a police report filed, and Kevin says they should have it. He also asks if Leah was present on that evening, and she says she was not. Kevin asks for a business card, which Torres freely gives. Then Agent Torres then thanks them and goes on his way.

Meanwhile, Jones is texting with Willett, letting her know Lawrence Torres with ICE is here. She says she knows him, asks if they need help, and Jones asks if Torres is aware of the occult underground. She says he’s not, and Jones says that may not be accurate, so she calls him. Jones tells her that Torres dropped a thumbdrive leading him to Jimmy Morgan’s sister. He was also on a weird website that Jones was led to visit through mojo channels, and he doesn’t know if it compromises or mind controls people. He tells her about GNOMON, telling her that she should be very careful while investigating it in case it causes some manner of mind control.

Kevin holds up a note for Jones indicating that he told Torres what he told Willett. That leads to the revelation that Kevin mentioned a police report when none was filed; Willett just had the composite sketch done as a potential person of interest, and Kevin gave his testimony anonymously, and the fact that this person broke into his house was left out of the official record. Willett says she has some things to research, and she’ll handle any inconsistencies in the record.

Jones and Kevin then spend several minutes trying to get the story straight in case ICE comes back around again. Once they determine they probably need to wait for whatever Willett does, they depart.

On Saturday, Jones takes Jane up to the commune for the morning to picnic and walk around before he has to go to work in the afternoon. The rest of the weekend is comparatively quiet.

Monday morning, Kevin receives a call from The Voice asking when he would be free to meet with The Dealer. After conferring with his associates, he calls back indicating Tuesday afternoon at his house would be optimal.

Tuesday, February 22, Jones, Kevin, and Leah are all present when The Dealer and two of his suited guards arrive. He indicates his associates tell him there are currently two open gates in the city, and The Dealer suspects Kevin is well aware of the second open gateway. He wants to know why he should deal with this cabal when he suspects the gates can be closed with sufficient ritual action; he also wonders why it sounds like he’s cleaning up their mess. But he finally comes to the idea that he’ll let Kevin look at the Whitley Folio for a day if Kevin is willing to give a taste of his ability to traverse the holes. The group initially seems to misunderstand this — does he want a description of what exists in the Otherspaces or a peek of what’s in these Otherspaces? — but The Dealer explains that he can take a small parcel of Kevin’s knowledge and ability to traverse the mystical grid around Los Angeles. They counter with potentially giving glimpses or memories of what lurks in the Otherspaces, but The Dealer explains that if there are no important resources therein, and the only goal is to close them, why does he need to know what’s inside? They note that it seems unfair for Kevin to only get a glimpse of the book whereas The Dealer picks up a skill forever, so Kevin counters that he can hold onto the skill for as long as Kevin can look at the book. The Dealer accepts, and they shake on it.

Session 32

Monday, February 7, 2011

It’s a tense, two-hour wait. After some radio chatter from the team and the boatman, the police boat returns and Detective Daniels boards the seaplane with Jones at around 1 AM on Tuesday, February 8. Jones asks how everything went, and Daniels indicates it went according to parameters. They then wordlessly sit on the return flight to Los Angeles.

Once back at the airport, Daniels goes his way while Jones gets in his car and manages to get back to his home around 2 AM. Jane is asleep on the couch in her pajamas with Scotch at the ready, as she apparently tried to wait up for Jones to return. She awakens when he returns, pleased to see him well, and they drink Scotch before heading to bed.

As Kevin is getting ready the following morning, there is a knock at the door. He answers it to find Detective Willett. She apologizes for being curt the other day, and if she is aware of his arrest the other day, she doesn’t mention it. She asks if Kevin has heard from Jones yet; he has not. She then indicates that she wishes to meet with the members of the cabal: Jones, Kevin, and Leah, as well as Jane and Felicia. Does Kevin have any other roommates in the know? He indicates that his roommate Otis knows, so she asks him to come as well. Kevin needs to make certain he tells the others. Willett notes that Kevin’s parents own a commune outside the city, and asks if he thinks it would be an acceptable meeting place? Would Kevin’s parents have a problem with a police officer being there? (For her part, Willett knows the sorts of things that might happen there, but she doesn’t particularly care, and they fall outside her jurisdiction anyway.) He needs to check, but he can get back to her. Does Saturday work? She doesn’t know Jones’ schedule, but she figures she can find him any time if he can’t make it. Kevin says he’ll get in touch with everyone and they’ll figure it out. Before she goes, can she talk to Felicia briefly? Kevin gets her, and the two step outside for a couple of minutes. When Felicia steps back inside, she seems a little flustered, but otherwise okay. She remarks that Detective Willett seems really nice. The trio finishes getting ready for work.

Leah is surprised by a knock at her door at around 9 AM or so. When she checks and sees it’s Detective Willett at the door, she opens it, despite having just awakened and only being in her underclothes; Willett seems unfazed. Willett indicates that she spoke to Kevin earlier in the morning — he’ll call her later — and actually neglected to ask him about what she’s about to ask Leah. Has Jones been acting strangely recently? Leah hasn’t noticed anything out of the ordinary. Willett has concerns that he has perhaps been subverted by sorcery, and she has a diagnostic test that might potentially determine this. Leah pretty quickly surmises that Willett is talking about Jane, and when Leah asks about the possibility that Jane has given Jones some manner of magickal STD, Willett notes that she and Jones had a conversation about how much trouble he was having getting a date. The next thing she knows, he’s suddenly with this Jane person, and that seems suspicious enough to merit investigation. Willett indicates that he might not be influenced by her, or if he is, he might not know. Or that such influence might have altered his personality so that he will attempt to hide it whether or not he is consciously aware of it. As such, Leah needs to get him to her house without revealing the true purpose of the visit. Leah agrees, and Willett indicates her diagnostic requires another person, a former police officer named Aaron Diaz who is also aware of the occult underground. He can administer the test, which requires a specific mirror — a magick mirror, when Leah tries to offer her own mirrors — and for Jones to self-report what he sees. Leah asks if she should invite Kevin, and Willett says that’s not necessary, as she probably doesn’t even want to know what he sees in the mirror. Leah finally agrees, and Willett says she’ll call Aaron. Leah is going to get dressed and call Jones to get him over.

After Leah gets dressed, she moves deeper into her house and calls Kevin, indicating that Willett is acting a little strangely. Kevin reports what Willett told him about the meeting this weekend, and Leah finds Jane’s inclusion very odd, given that Willett just said Jane might be dangerous. Leah tells Kevin he should probably come over. She then calls Jones, and proceeds to immediately tell him everything Willett told her. He is very displeased at this news and quite disappointed in Willett, but says he’ll be over.

When Leah returns to her living room, Willett asks if everything is all right, and Leah says that Kevin will also be coming over. After an awkward pause, Willett comments that Leah told Jones everything, and Leah angrily retorts that Willett put her in an awkward position, and she won’t betray Jones’ trust. Besides, how does she know Willett isn’t compromised? Willett admits that there is no way to know, and it’s something she considers often. She also notes that Willett suspects Jane, but invited her to the meeting at the Spring-Day commune. Willett retorts that if she found evidence of wrongdoing, that would give her three or four days to do something about it; but if there’s no evidence of wrongdoing, there isn’t a good reason to avoid inviting Jane only to invite her later. They then wait for the others in awkward silence.

Eventually Kevin shows up and makes small talk. It’s still about another half hour before Jones arrives. He arrives as a middle-aged Hispanic man with a shaved head emerges from a pickup truck. He appears to be hefting a long, narrow, flat object under a sheet. Jones remarks he suspects the man is here for him, and he knocks on the door. Leah lets Jones and the man inside, and Willett introduces him as Aaron Diaz. She makes introductions all around, and Aaron unwraps the object, which appears to be an antique mirror, and props it against the wall. Willett instructs everyone to look in the mirror and describe what they see; if something is out of place, it will probably be obvious. She goes first, describing that she has bigger eyes, a set of scales in her hand, and the shadows loom uncomfortably close behind her. Jones goes next, describing himself as alert but with bags under his eyes, a “Joan of Arc sword,” an American flag flying behind him, and a pretty good smile. He does not mention the field of corpses behind him that also appears in the mirror. Leah steps forward and describes herself as sitting in lotus position with a flaming aura behind her. She is illuminated by a spotlight, and has many arms, each with a pretty mask in hand. The hands take turns placing the masks over her face, which is her old face. Finally, Kevin describes himself as earthier, covered in a web that connects to the city-like jungle behind him. His eyes have no pupils, and shed light outward, like the beams of headlights.

Willett thanks Aaron, and he begins to rewrap the mirror. Leah says that was cool, and Jones asks how he does that. Aaron replies that a good magician never reveals his secrets. Jones asks if they can potentially use his mirror again, and he says to give him a couple of days’ lead time, as he’ll probably need to perform the ritual again to make the mirror work. He takes his mirror and leaves.

Willett apologizes to Jones, noting that the last thing she heard was that he was single, and then he suddenly started dating this model. Kevin brings up the meeting that weekend, and he calls his parents to see if it’s all right. Most of the people are going to be at a music festival, anyway, so Saturday is just fine. When Kevin confirms this, Willett asks him to pick a time; they eventually settle on 10 AM Saturday morning. They’ll meet her at a gas station about ten minutes away from the commune to make sure she doesn’t miss any turns. With that done, Willett leaves. Jones leaves shortly thereafter, still brooding, but before Willett enters her car, he shouts to get her attention and give her a nod. She returns the gesture before driving away. Jones returns home. Kevin returns to his work for the day. Leah continues her auction preparations, although she does post on social media later about the “vision” she had, describing herself in the magick mirror. She encourages her followers to produce fanart of this vision.

That evening, when Jane gets home, Jones suggests they go out to a restaurant, still annoyed from earlier and not wanting to have to deal with dinner. He explains Willett’s concerns about Jane from earlier in the day — Jane thinks they probably represent a fair concern — and then hesitates. When pressed, Jones intimates that he knows Jane is out of his league. She retorts that he’s out of her league, as he’s thoughtful and honest, and not either a rube or ruthless like most of the people she’s met. She proceeds to explain how this relationship is very important to her, and she wants to try really hard to not to ruin it. She proceeds to explain several things that have apparently been on her mind. She knows she has a tendency to run if things get rough, and notes that she’s less likely to flee if she had to walk past someone to do it. Additionally, most of her possessions are in Jones’ house — but before she can finish the thought, Jones gathers what she’s saying and interrupts to say she can stay.

She was initially surprised when opening up to Jones didn’t swiftly erode her connection to the Naked Goddess. As such, she suspects she might be able to maintain some dynamic equilibrium by being open with Jones and mysterious with everyone else. If her connection ever crumbles, then perhaps she can walk Mabel’s path of the Flying Woman. Additionally, since she would like to maintain a schedule that is more compatible with Jones’ odd schedule, she’s been considering modeling so she can work flexible hours. With her inherent magick, she thinks she’d have a good shot at it, even in a town like Los Angeles; specially after talking with Leah and Bex, she thinks this might be a viable option, despite potentially being a risk to her magick. She does acknowledge that both she and Jones are relatively private people, and such a career might bring scrutiny, so she understands if he feels somewhat hesitant about it. He says he’ll ponder it; for now, can they go to dinner?

The next several days are relatively quiet. Before Jones heads to work on Wednesday, Jones, Kevin, and Leah meet to discuss what they want to do about the King’s Court. They agree to meet with The Voice in the hopes of seeing what the Court would want from them, but decide not to agree to anything or make any deals. Kevin calls and sets up a meeting for next Wednesday afternoon at a nearby Starbucks.

Thursday, Jones presents his plan to form their own court to counteract the King’s Court to Jane. She feels as though that is reasonable, and pledges to assist. Likewise, he presents his plan to Mabel on Friday, and she says she’s always ready to cause trouble. He hopes it won’t come to that, but Mabel suspects it will. It often does.

On the morning of Saturday, February 12, Jane, Jones, and Leah meet at Kevin’s house so that the four of them as well as Otis and Felicia can carpool to the Spring-Day commune. Along the way, they pick up Willett, as planned. Once everyone has reached the commune, Willett explains the purpose of her visit. She is aware that everyone present is somehow involved in the occult underground, and as she has interacted with everyone and performed background checks on the people whose names she knows, none of the assembled party appear to be the sorts of people about whom she needs to worry. As such, she indicates she is part of an organization known as the Blue Line, a very loose network of police officers who know about the weird things in the world. They task themselves with policing things that ordinary police and citizens know nothing about. Willett also notes that her personal speciality is homicide, so she doesn’t particularly care about whatever else anyone is doing, as long as no bodies are dropping. Jones asks how many Blue Line officers there are in the area, and she says that there are a few, although she doesn’t know all of them, as again, it’s a very loose network across all levels of law enforcement. She suspects that it would be useful for both parties to be able to contact one another, so that they can warn each other of potential dangers in their respective spheres of influence. (After all, it’s useful for her to have people involved in the occult underground who can inform her of things the police ought to know, just as it’s useful for them to have a police contact similarly able to inform them of things civilian occultists ought to know.) The clandestine nature of this particular meeting is caused by the fact that Homeland Security is currently investigating the aftermath of the Khalifastan Otherspace shootout on Long Beach, and so she doesn’t want to risk anyone being connected with a federal investigation. Jones and Kevin ask about Steve, and Willett says the police have not made much headway — even with a solid sketch, it’s hard to track someone with no paper trail or relatives in this dimension. Likewise, Detective Daniels has apparently grown suspicious of Jones and his friends; she doesn’t think he’s the sort to come after them, but they should definitely be careful. He’s a former Marine and Vietnam veteran, and his experiences with the occult have been overwhelmingly negative, so he is predisposed to think the occult underground is only going to cause trouble. Over the course of the conversation, she asks about 811 Wilshire, and they indicate they’ve learned nothing more about it. She feels that’s good enough, and as long as everyone knows to stay away from it, that will probably work out for the best until further information can be obtained. She also asks if there is anything else she ought to know, and Leah mentions the auction. Willett asks if she needs police to provide security, as she’s certain they’d do it if she is willing to donate, but Leah says she’ll think about it. Willett also indicates that she has purchased several pay-as-you-go phones. They have a number for her own pay-as-you-go phone in the Contacts, and that should be used as the primary point of contact for her to avoid any investigations finding connections between her and the cabal. To avoid surveillance, buy the phone cards from gas stations or drug stores or wherever else they’re sold, and only pay in cash. She heads back to her car and passes out phones, and when no one has any further questions, she heads to her car to drive back to Los Angeles.

Session 31

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Despite a late evening, Jones heads to work in the morning without incident. After he’s been at work roughly a half-hour, he receives notification that he’s being paged by Jane. When he answers it, she lets him know that Detective Willett just dropped by the house, and she wanted to warn him that Willett’s headed to his work next. So as to avoid any unnecessary questions about the police coming to his place of work, Jones takes a break and texts Willett to let her know he’s waiting outside.

Willett arrives, apparently in poor humor. She accuses Jones of withholding information, that he knew whose license plate he gave her to trace. Jones indicates he did not, and while Willett is still suspicious, she seems satisfied. She explains the car is a rental from Denver, Colorado, and records indicate it was rented to one James Morgan — the same James Morgan shot dead in the American Café on January 11. The identification and credit card used to rent the vehicle match, and the security footage seems to resemble him. Willett presents Jones with still images from the security tape, and despite being a little grainy, he is inclined to agree. Willett further explains that investigation yields that he only has one surviving relative, a sister named Christy Morgan; their father committed suicide before James was born, while their mother died of ovarian cancer about ten years ago. Jones notes, however, that he suspects this situation is under control, that someone is impersonating Maps-to-the-Stars Jimmy, but that said person shouldn’t cause any more trouble. As it comes out that this person was connected to the assault on Jones earlier in the week, Willett reminds him he can file charges and the police can pursue an investigation, but he recommends against it; he’ll handle it himself. Willett further reminds him to make sure they clean up Kevin’s mess, particularly since Homeland Security is snooping around now. She also asks if she needs to be worried about Kevin’s roommate, obliquely referring to Felicia. Jones says she was just scared, and Willett notes that the records she was able to find seem to bear that out. She still admonishes Jones to be careful, as Kevin’s roommate’s prints were left on the partially-melted guy recovered from the backstage Otherspace, and everyone is very lucky that Willett ran the prints and not someone like Daniels, as that would have probably gone very badly indeed. Jones takes this as a veiled threat of blackmail. Willett then says she’ll be in touch, and she gets back into her car and leaves. Jones returns to work.

Later that morning, Kevin drives Leah back from the commune to Los Angeles. Once she returns in range of a cell tower, she receives several messages: a series of drunken photographs from Bex and Lorenzo, indicating that they missed Leah at the club last night; one voicemail from Jimmy lessthanthree Brenda, finalizing details for today’s meeting with her and Melker; and one voicemail from Jane, asking Leah to call back whenever she receives this message. Leah calls Jimmy first, finalizing details to meet him at Mel’s office around 2 PM. (And confirming that Melker doesn’t know anything about the occult.) She then calls Jane, and Jane says that they discussed going thrifting at the party last weekend; would Leah be available to do that? Leah says she’s busy today, but tomorrow around lunchtime should work.

The only spot of weirdness on the way back into town comes, perhaps unsurprisingly, from Kevin. On the way back into Los Angeles, he stops to assist a stopped vehicle by the side of the road, setting up road flares and waiting for police to arrive. Leah asks if this is going to be a permanent fixture of Kevin’s behavior, because she’ll have to budget extra time if that’s the case. He says he has it under control.

When they arrive back at Kevin’s house, Leah gets in her car to head home, change, and head over to Paramount to meet with Mel and Jimmy. Jimmy arrives at Melker’s office around 2 PM, submits his resume, and Melker questions him about his work experience. Jimmy hardly makes the best impression, instead coming across like an obsessive weirdo who understands how money “really works.” Once the interview is complete, Melker thanks him, and Jimmy takes his leave. Leah stays behind so Mel can speak with her.

Melker absolutely refuses to allow Jimmy to have any access to the family trusts, which means Leah can either hire Jimmy herself and be cut off from the Fitzroy family wealth, or she can drop this foolishness. Leah, recalling that the deal back on January 6 gave Pam final authority over family business, notes that she’s going to call Pam and see what she thinks. Melker grimaces, then picks up his own desk phone and calls Pam, shooing Leah out of his office. After several tries, Leah manages to get through to Pam, who notes that she just spoke to Mel. Leah explains that Jimmy is much more reasonable than Mel made him sound, that he’s a skilled financier and a friend of The American Dream — they even recommended him to Leah in the first place! This allays Pam’s fears, and she is willing to accept Leah’s judgment in the matter.

When Jones leaves work, he finds he has two messages. One is from Jane, warning him that Willett is on her way. The other is from Hal, asking if Jones can call him back when he receives this. Jones calls Hal, who proceeds to explain that Maps-to-the-Stars Jimmy’s sister contacted him. He’s fine, but she would be interested in speaking with Jones; Hal provides her number. Jones proceeds to call Christy and set up a meeting in a strip mall parking lot, followed by calling Kevin to let him know what Jones is doing in case things go wrong.

When Jones meets Christy, she apologizes for attacking him, but explains that she did not consider it prudent to introduce herself if she thought someone was going around killing sorcerers. She indicates that Hal noted that her brother had dealings with some local Merchant called The Dealer, and she asks what Jones would be able to tell her about it. Jones tells her to not go into this with guns blazing, lest she manage to get herself killed. She seems displeased at his lecture, and both parties are about to leave when he says there’s a hotline to call to find out where the next Dealer’s Market will be held; the one this month has already passed, but she might be able to try for March. He gives her the number, and the two part company.

The next day, Leah meets Jane at around noon, and they go shopping across the thrift stores in L.A. Jane takes the opportunity to idly ask about Jones, including whether Leah ever dated him, and she also asks about Leah’s social media presence and her photographer friend Bex. Leah invites Bex out, and the three of them end up shopping and taking too many Instagram selfies. It’s a fine time, and Jane ends up returning home later than she expected.

That night, Jones tells Jane about his trip tomorrow, leaving out most of the details but conveying that he has to go on some potentially-dangerous errand. She accepts this, being familiar with the vagaries of the occult underground, but is definitely concerned. After she has gone to bed, Jones takes a moment to watch her sleep, acutely aware that this might be the last night they have together.

Meanwhile, while most people in L.A. are watching the Super Bowl, Kevin heads out to look for road construction. While the construction workers are off work, he sneaks onto the site and tries to complete a little road work for them, feeling the rush of power that accompanies his symbolic attunement to the city. At some point, the police arrive, and as Kevin is unable to adequately explain his presence as a guerrilla road work crew, they place him under arrest. He is released sometime Monday afternoon, and is given a date for his hearing the following week.

The next day, Jones heads to Dan’s Super Bowl party; Jane takes a half-day to accompany him. She causes quite the stir — nobody knew Jones was in a relationship, let alone with a woman who looks like a model — but it’s otherwise a fine time. They leave a little early so they can spend some time together before Jones runs his errand that night.

Jones meets Detective Daniels at the airport around 10 PM. Daniels has a gym bag and fishing equipment with him, and the two pile into a seaplane. As Jones flies, Daniels inquires about the melted man at Kevin’s house, but Jones deflects the question, saying that it’s all been handled. The rest of the trip is in awkward silence. They arrive at the coordinates (32°29’58.1"N, 117°08’25.2"W) at around 10:30 PM, where a Tijuana police boat meets them. Three people are within; Daniels joins them, and the boat speeds toward shore.

[Daniel’s escapades in TIjuana are fully detailed in the adventure Tijuana Picnic.]


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