USW: Tip the World Over on Its Side

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.

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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.

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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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Session 30

Friday, February 4, 2011

Before heading over to Kevin’s house to ride up to the commune with Otis, Jones calls Leah to ask if she wants to accompany him. They both agree to meet at Kevin’s house. Jones also sends Jane a text to let her know there’s something he has to do; she admonishes him to be careful.

After parking, Jones heads up the sidewalk and sees a man in a suit pass him. As he does, he hears a clattering of plastic on the pavement, and he turns to see the man has evidently dropped a USB flash drive and continued walking. Jones takes a picture of the man’s back and then picks up the thumb drive in a handkerchief.

Meeting up with Leah and heading to Kevin’s, Jones sees Sabas sitting on Kevin’s front stoop. Leah, never having previously met him, does not recognize him, nor does she connect him with Jones’ tale of the man in his hotel room, but she notes that Jones seems deferential. Sabas says all is well, he just admonishes Jones to ensure that his friend cleans up the mess down the beach. Jones acknowledges, and asks if there’s a way to get in contact with Sabas in the future? Sabas says there is likely no need, but if Sabas ever needs to find Jones, he’ll take his phone number. Jones recites it to him, and Sabas indicates he has places he needs to be, so he leaves them to it.

Before knocking on the door, Jones explains to Leah that Sabas was the strange man in his hotel room with the “time bomb,” and he’s some sort of repairer of the cosmic order. Leah comments that Sabas is probably going to erase Kevin from reality; Jones asks if that’s a thing that’s even possible, while Leah notes it would solve the problem. Jones thinks erasing a person would cause more problems than it solves. In either case, hopefully they’ll fix it before it comes to that.

That successfully resolved, Jones knocks on the door. Otis answers, and Jones and Leah enter. Jones notes that he has some things he wants to discuss with Leah, and asks how much Otis knows about the occult underground. He indicates he doesn’t know much, so Jones explains the current situation regarding the King of Scales apparently forcing Leah’s father, Jasper, out of Los Angeles so he could take his territory. Jones suggests that they start planning their own regime, setting up a king of their own. Once they recover Jasper Fitzroy, he could potentially act as this king, or perhaps Leah could. In either case, they could build their own power base to rival that of the King of Scales, so that if he ever does try to oppose them, they’ll already have a support structure in place. Jones also notes that he could potentially recruit his fellow veterans as an honor guard to guard vulnerable places like the Spring-Day commune without needing the King of Scales to do it for them. Of course, he needs to discuss all this with Kevin first. He asks Otis if this idea sounds fair, and Otis says he doesn’t know enough to know if that plan seems sound.

Jones also notes that Otis should probably keep in mind that there are dangerous people out there, and Jones, Kevin, and Leah have already been threatened, so Otis should make sure to watch his back.

Felicia walks in the door shortly thereafter, and Otis presents the plan of traveling up to the commune. She agrees, and the foursome jumps in Otis’ truck to head to the commune. Once they’ve left the city, about forty minutes out, Otis comments that there’s a black sedan that’s been behind them for quite a while. Jones recommends they pull over, and when he does, the car that’s been following them keeps on driving. The rest of the journey to the commune is uneventful.

Once they have arrived, Otis asks around for Kevin and introduces Jones and Leah to a couple of people. They run into Kevin’s mother, who seems glad to meet Jones and Leah after hearing about them, and she indicates that Kevin is in the sweat lodge out back. Otis and Felicia lead Jones and Leah to the small, wooden building. Chief Bug is sitting out back; after introductions are made, Bug checks on Kevin, who appears to be finishing his sweat session. He informs the others of this, and so they wait for a moment until Kevin emerges. Kevin greets them and says he has much to discuss, but as it’s roughly dinnertime, Kevin says they can converse after dinner. Everybody goes inside to help prepare for dinner, and they make pleasant chitchat as food is served and eaten.

After dinner, Jones, Kevin, and Leah head out back to walk around and discuss matters. Kevin begins to explain that this is all about what’s best for the city, that the city is like a tree, and like a tree, some things can be harmful or helpful to it. He thinks urbanomancers like the Los Angeles Rats are parasites on this tree, while it is unclear whether or not the King of Scales is harmful. As his diatribe proceeds, Jones and Leah surmise that he has taken steps along the road of the adept, even if he doesn’t see it that way, although he notes that he can perform his own miraculous tasks if allowed to alter the city’s flow.

Jones then proceeds to explain the issues with Kevin’s use of the Holes, his visit from Sabas, and his ideas regarding making their own court. Kevin disagrees with this, saying that creating a separate court is tantamount to declaring war, and are they willing to make war on the King’s Court before talking to them? Jones argues that talking with the King’s Court risks tipping their hand, and they had best begin shoring up their own defenses in case someone’s attack comes.

After an hour of this argument with no sign of resolution, Jones says he’s heading back to Los Angeles. Kevin and Leah are both staying here for the night, as are Felicia and Otis. Jones manages to catch a ride back to the city with Shane, one of the regulars at the commune. On the way back, he asks if he can hit the Walmart Supercenter in Porter Ranch, and Shane agrees; he buys a very cheap laptop while there, and finishes his ride back into Los Angeles. Once he returns to his car, he manages to return home a little after 11 PM. He explains the day’s excitement to Jane as he sets up his laptop. She indicates she’s been trying to reach Leah, but hasn’t gotten through, and does Jones know where she is? He just left her at the commune, and she probably doesn’t have cell service.

Making certain the laptop is not connected to the internet, he plugs in the USB drive. It contains only a single file, “man is least himself when he talks in his own person.txt,” and that file reads:

34°01’20.4"N 118°15’10.5"W

207

A quick Google search indicates that latitude and longitude corresponds to the Eastsider Motel at 2133 S Central Ave. He asks Jane, currently in her pajamas and reading before bed, if she’s up for an adventure. She agrees and quickly changes into a T-shirt and jeans. They jump into Jones’ car and head toward the Eastsider Motel.

It’s the perfect image of the cheap movie hotel, a mix of travelers looking for an inexpensive place to stay and people who cannot afford better. Jane and Jones ascend the stairs to 207 and knock on the door. A woman’s voice shouts through the door, asking what they want, and Jones asks if this woman lost a USB drive by any chance? She indicates she did not, and after a little back-and-forth, Jones finally thanks her for her time and apologizes for the lateness of the hour. As Jane and Jones are ready to leave, Jones looks around and notices a familiar car in the parking lot; it’s the black sedan that tried to follow them to the commune. Jones explains this to Jane and he decides to wait by the car to see if anyone approaches. The woman in 207 eventually peeks out of the door and glances in Jones’ direction before returning to her room. After another minute, her door again opens and she steps out, leaning against the upper railing and asking why Jones is waiting around. He says he’s waiting for the owner of this car. She finally deigns to invite Jane and Jones upstairs so she can examine this USB drive, and the pair ascends the stairs and heads to 207. Before entering, Jones tells the woman he’s armed, and she says that’s all right.

The occupant of 207 is a petite, dark-haired Caucasian woman, introducing herself as Cassandra. Jones explains how he came across this USB drive, and that it led him to her. As he explains this, she starts rummaging through the duffel bag on the table. She indicates that she doesn’t think it’s hers, and wheels around with a pistol in her hand, a Glock by the look of it. Noting her hands, Jones notices that her knuckles are bruised. Jane has had her hand inside her purse this whole time, having earlier indicated to Jones that she carries mace, and doesn’t move it any further into or out of her purse. The woman seems to direct most of her inquiries at Jones, indicating that he killed someone — he notes he was in the Air Force, and she says it was a lot more recent than that — and asking why. Questioning reveals that she is referring to her brother, Maps-to-the-Stars Jimmy. Jones explains that something happened to him, he was possessed by the ghost of a dead woman — which the woman calls a demon — and came in to kill someone. Jones may have shot him, but he also tried to save him, applying pressure to the wound until emergency personnel came. The woman seems satisfied, but continues to ask what happened, was Jimmy into anything she should know? Jones says he doesn’t really know, and so she asks if there is anyone who might know. Jones directs her to Hal, but tells her that he was one of Jimmy’s friends, so she shouldn’t go in half-cocked and ready to shoot him. At her request, he gives her Hal’s phone number. He then tells her that her actions the other night — referring to the attacker at the Far Bar, whom he strongly suspects was also this woman — were fucked up, and maybe she should try talking to people before attacking them. (He notes with some degree of irony that Kevin expressed a similar sentiment earlier in the night.) Both parties agree they’re done, and Jones tells her not to come after Jane again. Jane similarly notes that if Jones can’t take her, Jane absolutely will. They depart.

On the way back down the stairs, Jones embraces Jane and kisses her, and they both head back home to drink too much Scotch and make love until the adrenaline levels come back down.

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Session 29

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Jones awakens in his hospital bed after a somewhat fitful night. Jane similarly awakens, curled in a hospital chair. After a bit, the doctor enters, and introductions are made. Learning that Jane is not his wife, he asks if she can step outside while he discusses things with Jones. As she leaves, the doctor is clearly vexed at seeing a woman like that as Jones’ girlfriend. He proceeds to explain that there are a couple of things on Jones’ chart that he finds troubling, and he’d like to schedule a CT scan for Jones to make sure everything is okay. After some back-and-forth, Jones indicates he’d like to think about it and talk it over with his girlfriend.

Once the doctor has left and Jane returns, Jones notes he has misgivings about staying, although perhaps that’s just his paranoia. He asks if CT scans or similar procedures interfere with magick at all; Jane doesn’t think so, but all sorts of rumors float around the occult underground. However, while she probably doesn’t go to the doctor as often as she should, most of the girls back in the Sect of the Naked Goddess regularly went to the doctor as part of their jobs. So far as she knows, there were no issues.

Meanwhile, Kevin receives a phone call from Detective Willett, asking if he’s around. She sounds annoyed. He indicates he’s at home, and she tells him that she’ll be right over, as she needs to talk to him. She arrives within a half-hour, and seems quite perturbed. She tells Kevin that she needs to know what he knows, now that she has encountered two groups of people without apparent origin: both the body she removed from his house last week, that has no records attached to it, and the people arrested last evening. Kevin says he’ll take her to the grotto where the travelers from the USSR-controlled United States emerged. On the walk, Kevin proceeds to explain — much to Willett’s annoyance, in his standard roundabout way — about how he sees “holes” in reality, like some grand Swiss cheese, and that he has done this since a fateful night where he transported between Long Beach and Malibu in an instant. Since then, he can perceive these strange holes, and interact with them, even traveling between them in this reality. In fact, Kevin notes that better than explaining, he’ll show her. She looks relatively unimpressed until Kevin disappears; she unholsters her gun, but stands frozen as if caught between the desire to shoot or run. Kevin reemerges and manages to talk her down, reframing it as just something he can do that’s ultimately natural.

Continuing their walk, Kevin explains that, regarding the man she retrieved from his house, a door opened in his bedroom wall, and a man came through. Felicia was home and in the shower, and was apparently surprised by him, resulting in the state in which he was found. He suspects this other place, which looks like the backstage of a theatre, somehow pushed through to our world, as if the inhabitants are trying to access this one. As for the incursion last night, Willett manages to draw out of him that the travelers apparently came from a grotto where he tried to transport Leah and himself to her house, although it failed.

Upon reaching the grotto, Kevin notes that it continues into the rock, forming a cave
that was not there before. He explains that the cave is new, and Willett draws her gun and a flashlight, and the pair enters into the cave. It continues for several yards before bending and revealing another opening looking over a beach. The entrance is blocked with police tape, and from this distance, it looks like it may be in a foreign language. Willett notes that this is as far as they’ll go, and they turn back, returning to Long Beach in Los Angeles.

Once back, further conversation leads Kevin to note that one of the travelers came to his house, held him and his friends hostage, and eventually left. Willett notes that this man only calling himself Steve has been out in the city for about twelve hours, and Kevin has just seen fit to mention it? She notes that she wants him to come to the station to give a statement and get a sketch artist to do an official portait in the hopes of catching him. Before leaving his house, Kevin shows her the extra doorway in his room, and notes that he has heard someone on the other side of it trying to get into his room. She asks if he has performed any other experiments on the Holes in this room, and he indicates he went to Leah’s house from here. Willett notes that the thing in common seems to be Kevin traveling through the Holes, so he should probably stop doing that if it’s ripping portals to other realities. In fact, closing these portals should be his priority, as it’s something that potentially only he can do.

Once they leave, she drives Kevin to the station in awkward silence, where they spend a couple of hours can officially relaying a description of Steve to a sketch artist. Once they are satisfied, Willett drops Kevin back at his house. He calls Leah, currently out scouting auction locations with Melker, to ask if he can swing by her house and check to make certain he hasn’t accidentally opened any Otherspaces there. She says she’ll let him know when she’s done.

Back at LAC+USC Medical Center, Jones is scheduled for a CT scan. After a couple of hours, the doctor gets back to him and says everything looks normal, but he would like to keep him for a couple of days just to make sure. Since there is technically nothing keeping Jones here, however, he argues to be released, and the doctor eventually relents. He does recommend that Jones rests for a couple of days, at least. They prescribe him painkillers, and he is eventually discharged in the early evening.

As they are preparing to leave, Jane asks that, given the attack and everything, would it be all right if she stays with Jones a couple of days? He agrees, and she warns him her apartment is fairly shitty. They drive, and he finds she lives in a relatively spartan efficiency, just a handful of books and clothes with a Kindle, laptop, and mp3 player. The one notable decoration is a copy of Magritte’s The Treachery of Images on the wall, from when Jane and Jones went to the museum. She packs two pieces of luggage within a half-hour — clearly having experience with this sort of thing — and the two head to Jones’ house.

When Kevin meets Leah at her house, he investigates and finds no errant portals to other dimensions, although he does describe his meeting with Willett. Leah does not comment on it, but is amused to learn that he’s been opening doors to Otherspaces when he made such a big deal about her ritual from two weeks ago causing so much trouble.

Later, Kevin calls Willett to let her know that he’s trying something to close the cave on Long Beach, but she doesn’t want to hear any details, she just wants him to fix it. He devises an impromptu ritual including rocks from both sides of the gate and a length of hose, and he enacts it, symbolically trying to cleave the two doors asunder, but the ritual appears to do nothing. Disappointed, he decides to contemplate for a couple of days, packing his things and heading to the commune.

That evening, Jones calls Leah to find out what’s happening in his absence. She informs him about the shooting last night, and what she learned from Kevin today. She notes, with relish, that Kevin has apparently been tearing holes to other realities with his strange abilities — and here he was worried about Leah’s ritual on the beach. Jones notes that’s probably imperative that they’re all on the same page about using the Holes, and that they need to find the man from the other place that escaped the police.

While Jones was on the phone with Leah, Jane received a phone call from Rosie, who indicates she had a car accident earlier with a dark-haired caucasian woman who fled the scene of the accident. She didn’t recognize the woman, but things have a way of coming together under the auspices of the Naked Goddess. She has Colorado plates, and Rosie caught the license plate number. Jones calls Willett about it and asks if she can track it down, as it relates to his attack from the other day, although it’s filtered through a friend of a friend, so it’s hardly official. Willett, still sounding somewhat annoyed from her encounter earlier in the day, agrees to look for the plate.

Jones then tries to call Kevin, but cannot reach him. He’s not terribly concerned, although he figures he’ll try again. Over the next few days.

The next day passes relatively uneventfully. Jane goes back to work, Jones takes another day to stay home, and Leah continues preparing for her auction. Kevin remains at the commune, ostensibly vision questing. As the day progresses, Jones gets an idea about how to track down the mysterious Steve, the man from Soviet California. He gives Jimmy lessthanthree Brenda a call.

After getting Jimmy’s voicemail, he receives a call back within a couple of minutes. He asks what Jimmy would need to track someone down, and Jimmy says this is probably better discussed in person. Jones is amenable to meeting that evening. If possible, could Jones bring Leah Fitzroy with him? Jimmy has business he wishes to discuss with her. Jones says he’ll find out, and they agree to meet at a bar at 8 PM. Jones relates Jimmy’s request to Leah, indicating he doesn’t know why Jimmy wants to see her. During the day, Jones tries to contact Kevin again, but still cannot get an answer.

That evening, Jones and Leah meet Jimmy. Jones explains that he wants to track down a man, but that this man originates from an Otherspace. Jimmy indicates he would probably still be able to do it, as long as this man handles money, but he has to be able to picture the person in his head. Some sort of picture or description or something would be optimal. Jones notes that he hasn’t been able to get a hold of the person who saw him, but he’ll see what he can do. As for why Jimmy wanted Leah here, he is hoping for a change in employment, and he knows Leah has several television and industry projects in the works. As such, he would be interested in becoming her accountant. As it stands, the magick in the money primarily works when it is given as part of a standard job, not in exchange for magick itself, so gainful employment would work best for him. Many of the people at the bank don’t fully understand the money, and think Jimmy is a little weird — everybody wants to spend money, but Jimmy wants to save it, as the magick is in the saving. Jones is polite, but clearly thinks he is a nutjob, while Leah thinks she understands, although she is curious as to whether such a position would secure her any sort of exclusivity? Jimmy indicates that was the idea. She thinks a deal can be struck; she’ll be in touch with him over the next couple of days. Once finished, Jimmy takes his leave, and Leah takes Jones back to his house.

The next day is similarly quiet, although Jones returns to work that morning even though he still has a bit of pain in his ribs and head. He suspects, although has not yet decided, that he might use his injury as an excuse to skip his boss Dan’s Superbowl party on Monday. When he returns home after work, he tries to call Kevin again with no luck. This time, he tries to call Otis, and manages to get him right away. He notes that he’s been trying to get in contact with Kevin the past couple of days but hasn’t had any luck, and Otis indicates he’s been up at the commune. Jones says he’s considering going and Otis offers to give him a ride up there, which Jones initially decides against but then reconsiders. He says he’d like to leave this evening, and Otis says that shouldn’t be a problem.

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Session 28

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

It’s roughly 6 PM when there’s a knock at Leah’s door. She answers it to find Amadeus and Sara, as expected. Once everyone is inside, they get down to cases. She explains that her friend Kevin has been recruited by the King of Scales, and there’s a strong likelihood he’ll take the offer. As part of it, however, the King is likely going to request that all of them join. As Tyrannicide doesn’t care for the King of Scales, and Leah doesn’t particularly like him, either, she’s willing to feed them information on the activities of the King’s Court. In return, she would appreciate if they would help retrieve her father.

Amadeus notes that Thus Always to Tyrants and Capri are likely to be thrilled at this, and have a more extreme reaction in mind. They’ll probably want Leah to lead them to the King of Scales, given that he’s an enigma, and no one appears to know his actual identity. Unfortunately, he’s probably warded; at the very least, he has some biker gang that he can apparently trust with security, so there will likely be some members guarding him. If Tyrannicide can get extra support for an assault, though…

Amadeus and Sara also note that the King of Scales likely has one trick up his sleeve: something called a “proxy.” Proxies are people symbolically joined such that the universe thinks they’re interchangeable, and they foil magick. Long-distance magick against a target — scrying, curses, and suchlike — has a chance of affecting the proxy rather than the intended target. Leah asks if this connection might work the other way, and Amadeus and Sara suspect it’s possible. Similarly, there are rumors that the proxy bond can defy death itself; if the target is killed, one of the proxies might die in his stead.

Sara explains that she is a proxy for the King of Scales; she often had weird injuries and strange occurrences when she was a child, but it wasn’t until she was an adult that Tyrannicide managed to figure out what was happening to her. (They initially suspected Leah might also be a proxy, but were clearly wrong in that regard.) Her symbolic tie to the King is that she’s his daughter, and her name is apparently an anagram of his, which does little to narrow down the suspects. Unfortunately, she never knew her father, and her mother was apparently unsure of who her father might be, so she doesn’t have many leads regarding the King of Scale’s identity.

Amadeus thinks some sort of arrangement can likely be reached. He’ll have to talk to the other two members of Tyrannicide first, of course, but he thinks they can help find Leah’s father. He admonishes her to keep him in the loop, particularly since the King of Scales must have some method of keeping information within the King’s Court, and so she may be less able to help once she joins. The pair then takes their leave.

Jones heads over to the Far Bar on 347 E 1st St to meet Rosie and Jane — or Jenny, as Rosie calls her — for drinks at 6:30 PM. They’re already there when Jones arrives, and Rosie waves him over. He gives Jane a kiss on the cheek and he finds his seat. He also takes great care to not call her by name, lest he call her something other than “Jenny.” The trio chats amicably, although Rosie notes with amusement that Jane won’t tell her Jones’ first name. Rosie asks how they met, and Jane says they met at the American Café during the day. Jones just briefly remarks that she caught his eye, and the two share a chuckle about it. Jones asks about what Rosie does, and she remarks that she works in porn. She was working over in Chicago with Pagan Video, but they’ve been doing more in Los Angeles recently, and so she came to the West Coast. It’s frankly something she fell into, but she’s stuck with it since she saw the Naked Goddess tape.

After a bit, Jane excuses herself to use the restroom, and Rosie says she’ll join her in a moment. When Jane leaves, Rosie asks Jones what his intentions are with Jane. She asks if she can see his hands; he asks if this is mojo-related, and she replies it is. Before the conversation can continue too much longer, the restaurant halts as a piercing scream emanates from the direction of the bathrooms. Jones is on his feet, running toward the bathroom, with Rosie right after him. He flings open the door to the ladies’ room to find Jane curled up in a ball and sobbing uncontrollably in the far corner of the room. Between him and Jane is a dark-haired woman, apparently one of the servers, fiddling with a purse. Jones blocks the door, and glowering at the mysterious woman, indicates that they’re all going to wait right here so they can figure out what the hell is going on while the police arrive. The woman freaks out and flings herself at Jones, desperately trying to shove him out of the way so she can flee. Jones tries to restrain her despite her flailing, and although he manages to briefly grab her, she manages to overpower him, hitting him several times in the chest and face in the process. As she wriggles free, she catches him in the chin with an elbow and he goes sprawling to the floor. Rosie tries to grab the woman as she passes her, but the mystery woman manages to knock her aside. Jones shouts for someone to stop her, and hears a commotion as several restaurant-goers apparently do that. Rosie heads out to supervise.

Jones is now aching all over with a bad headache and an overpowering urge to vomit and go to sleep. He barely registers the blood on his shirt as he goes to calm down Jane. When he gets close, he can hear her muttering something about, “She had no face…” He manages to catch her attention, and she hugs him tightly. He asks what happened, and she indicates there was a woman behind her. When she turned around to confront her, she saw the woman had a pair of scissors. The woman then pulled her face off, revealing only a blank face underneath. Jane panicked and wasn’t fully aware of what was happening after that, but she’s pretty sure the woman took a clipping of her hair.

Rosie pokes her head back into the bathroom and announces that the woman has somehow disappeared despite three people having restrained her. She’s heading back out to deal with the police as they arrive. Meanwhile, Jane notices that Jones is hurt. He takes stock of himself in the mirror — his face is bruised and swollen, and his nose is bleeding although apparently not broken. Standing makes him feel extremely light-headed. Jane helps him staunch the bleeding from his nose, and then he heads out to wait for the police.

Once police take statements, Jane drives Jones to the hospital. Rosie says she’ll poke around and see what she can do to find this person in the meantime. Once at LAC+USC Medical Center on 2051 Marengo Street, Jones is taken in for testing and treatment before finally being transferred to a room to recuperate.

Meanwhile, Felicia, Kevin, and Otis are hanging around his house when they hear gunshots somewhere up the beach. Kevin goes outside to check it out, but notices someone lurking around his porch. When he confronts him, the man produces a gun, telling Kevin to be quiet and get back inside, unless he wants the militsiya to see him. When Kevin seems confused by this, he ushers Kevin inside his house.

In the light, it is apparent that this interloper is an Hispanic man in his thirties, maybe forties, wearing drab military surplus pants and a “FRANKIE SAY RELAX” T-shirt. He has the accent of a native Angeleno. Otis is relatively calm despite there being a gun-toting weirdo in the house, although Felicia looks nervous, like she’s mentally calculating whether it’s time to flee or jump him. Kevin manages to calm down, and over the course of the conversation, Kevin gets pieces of this man’s story.

The man, only referring to himself as Steve, seems to think that Kevin’s attitude and ideas are totally wrong. Kevin seems way too calm about the prospect of the police — which Steve repeatedly calls the “militsiya” — arriving, and when he notices it, Steve marvels at Kevin’s DVD collection. Steve seems to quickly realize that he’s in the wrong place, and it eventually comes out that Steve comes from a version of Los Angeles, which he calls Angeliy while referring to the surrounding area as Khalifastan, in which the Soviets overtook the United States in a war about thirty years ago. He had five insurgents, called “Stringers,” with him when they were ambushed by an unknown number of militsiya. They retreated to a cove on the beach — Kevin recognizes the description of the cove yesterday where he tried to sojourn with Leah through the Holes — and were surprised to find that it went deeper than expected. They emerged on this beach, in this strange realm. Steve appears to have some awareness that he has emerged in a world not his own, and is not overly troubled by it. Kevin insists on showing him the internet — he seems enamored of Wikipedia, trying to figure out what’s different between his world and this one — and various DVDs, largely Star Trek (particularly the episode “Mirror, Mirror”), as it was apparently banned in Khalifastan.

Once it’s clear that Steve probably isn’t going to go nuts and kill everyone, Kevin checks outside again. Things quickly die down as the police arrive, force everyone to surrender, and incarcerate all parties involved. Kevin tries to call Jones, cannot reach him, and so calls Leah. He lets her know that he cannot reach Jones, but that there was some trouble on the beach — apparently some manner of weird trouble, involving someone from another dimension where Red Dawn happened — and now he has a house guest. Everything’s fine, but he thinks someone ought to know. Once they’re fairly confident nothing untoward is going to happen, Felicia and Otis go to bed, leaving Kevin with Steve.

Leah decides to call Detective Willett, either to inform her or see what she knows, depending on the situation. When Leah calls and asks if she’s heard the news, Willett seems well-apprised, until it becomes apparent they’ve heard about different things. Willett hadn’t heard about the shooting by the beach, or at least had not heard that it was something that would interest her; she hasn’t been assigned, and the APB just suggested gang activity. She thought Leah was calling about Jones being assaulted and ending up in the hospital for treatment. Willett doesn’t know much, other than she’s heard he’s all right; apparently, he was at some restaurant with his girlfriend and some unknown assailant assaulted them. She plans on visiting him when she’s finished up with her current task.

Leah, surprised, thanks Willett and lets Kevin know about Jones. She then tries to conference Jones into the conversation, and Jane answers Jones’ phone. They briefly explain the events of the night to each other, and Jane tells the others that Jones should be okay. She’s probably going to leave as they seem keen to kick her out, but Leah tells her to stay put, and she’ll be right over. Jane turns on the news, which discusses the shooting over on Long Beach.

Leah arrives at the hospital and convinces the nurses to let Jane stay. She makes her way to Jones’ room, and they discuss what happened. Leah explains the details about people from some Russian-occupied United States crossing to this world at the place where Kevin attempted to jump to Leah’s house yesterday, and Jones makes the connection that he must have somehow poked a hole between the worlds. They decide something needs to be done about it, but Jones wants to keep Daniels and Willett — especially Daniels — out of the loop, particularly regarding the presence of the extra man, because he doesn’t know what will come of it. As they’re discussing that, Detective Willett arrives. After they introduce Jane to Willett and indicate Jones is all right, Jones tells Willett that she’ll probably want to talk to the people arrested at the beach. And that she should listen to whatever they say, no matter how unbelievable. Willett notes that, if that’s the case, she’ll probably hear from someone before too long, asking for her. As she discusses this, her cell phone rings. She answers it, indicating that she’ll be right along, and tells Jane, Jones, and Leah good bye, but that she will keep in touch.

Jane, Jones, and Leah then discuss the prospect of checking on Kevin. Leah decides to do so, and Jane will accompany her. They drive to Kevin’s neighborhood, and when they’re close, Leah calls Mabel to see if she’s awake. She is, so they arrive at her house and briefly explain the situation; she is already aware of the gunshots, but did not realize there was anything supernatural surrounding the incident. She notes that she is armed, and recommends calling Kevin to warn him, lest their presence make this Otherspace man freak out and turn violent.

Leah calls Kevin and lets him know they’re up the street, and is it all right if they come to say hello? Kevin asks Steve about this, and Steve says he’d probably rather not have company. Kevin notes they’re “hot girls,” but Steve still isn’t interested. As Kevin is conveying this to Leah, he hears the front door. When he goes to check, Steve is leaving the house. He tells Steve that he’ll be stuck with no identity, but Steve is all right with this and says he’ll find his own way. Kevin lets him go, and tells Leah that she can come over; everything’s calm.

As Leah is driving up the street, Jane, Leah, and Mabel all see someone moving between houses, but let it go. When they arrive, Kevin informs them it was probably his house guest Steve, as he just left. He explains the night’s events. Mabel notes that this sounds like an Otherspace, and indeed sounds like Kevin’s hole jumps might be causing them. During the discussion, talk of the one in his room emerges, and so he shows the extra door in his room to Jane and Leah. After further discussion, as it is rather late, Mabel suggests they tackle this in the morning, and so Leah takes Mabel home, and then takes Jane back to the hospital before returning to her own house.

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Session 27

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Jones awakens to prepare for work. Jane, somewhat hungover, rises with him. He makes a sufficiently greasy breakfast to assist, and before he leaves, he gives her his spare key. She asks what it is, and he replies that it’s trust. She is overwhelmed by the gesture, so Jones takes a few minutes to explain that maybe they can try the normal relationship thing. Besides, he knows a few police officers, so if something goes missing, he can track her down. This gets a laugh out of her, so he kisses her good bye and heads off to work.

Kevin and Otis spend the day cleaning after last night’s party, although Felicia helps minimally, as she is quite hungover. Leah goes about her routine and continues auction preparations. In the afternoon, Kevin calls her, asking about the fact that since the King’s Court appears to have made a deal with Iggy but no deal with Jasper, is bringing him back to Los Angeles actually a problem? Leah isn’t sure, but still knows that she’d rather neither ask for permission nor forgiveness — she’s just going to do it the damn thing.

Kevin later contacts the others about meeting tomorrow to experiment with the holes, and they agree. They all agree to meet around noon.

When Jones arrives home, Jane reveals she made a copy of his key so he can keep the original spare. He and Jane then go for a walk around his neighborhood. While out, they spot a young woman trying to change one of her tires. Jones notes that he has to go help, and when the woman turns around, she appears to be a young African-American woman, dressed for the gym. It’s also immediately clear that she and Jane recognize each other. She greets Jane as “Jenny,” and Jane greets her as Rosie. Jane introduces Jones — “Just Jones?” Rosie asks — and they talk briefly. Rosie suggests she thought Jane might have been dead, but Jane says she just wasn’t the best at farewells. Jones notes that’s a habit he hopes to change. After talking a bit further, they exchange numbers and say they’ll see each other soon.

As Jane and Jones continue on their way, Jane explains that she and Rosie were in the Sect of the Naked Goddess together back in Las Vegas. She left so quickly amidst the chaos that she’s hardly surprised the others thought she was dead. Jones notes that it’s awfully coincidental that she runs into one of her former cult members right when she’s thinking of abandoning her veneration of the Naked Goddess. Jane agrees, and Jones admonishes her to be careful; he doesn’t want to lose her.

When they return to Jones’ house, they hang out until Jane goes back to her apartment to get ready for work tomorrow.

The next day, Jones and Leah gather at Kevin’s house to indulge him in his experiment. He wants to take Leah through the holes, to her house. After some discussion, they agree to have Jones stay to observe their departure, they will call when they arrive on the other side, and then Jones can go to Leah’s house to pick them up. They decide on a secluded, rocky grotto on the beach to perform this experiment.

As the group leaves, they find three disheveled, homeless men standing on Kevin’s porch. Kevin recognizes them as the L.A. Rats he previously met. Jones also notes a car parked across the street; based on the general condition and number of occupants, he suspects local gang members. The three men, speaking in unison as before, tell Kevin that he totally fucked them — he sat on the Whitley Folio for too long, and now Edna Salinas sold it to The Dealer, and retrieving it is going to be significantly more difficult. If Kevin gets it for them, nobody is likely to be hurt. After some heated words from Jones and Kevin, the three homeless men prepare to leave, having delivered their ultimatum. They look slightly confused for a moment, then shuffle off in different directions. Shortly thereafter, there’s movement in the car, and it drives off.

After discussing that turn of events, the trio heads down to the beach. Once they find a secluded spot among the rocks, Kevin concentrates, hugs Leah, pitches forward — and disappears, leaving Leah behind. Jones gets a phone call from Kevin a few moments later, indicating that he’s fine, but in Leah’s backyard.

After retrieving Kevin, the trio discusses the matter with the L.A. Rats, and Kevin thinks this has forced their hands. He’ll have to contact The Voice and see about the prospect of turning to the King’s Court and accepting their offer in exchange for protection from the L.A. Rats for everyone, including their loved ones. Jones and Leah suggest that he try to operate as a freelancer if possible, with which he agrees. He calls The Voice and the two agree to meet at 11 AM tomorrow morning along the pier.

The trio then spends much of the afternoon shopping and generally indulging in their personal idioms — Jones keeps an eye out for trouble, Kevin looks for neat things he hasn’t encountered before, and Leah tries to be seen and take Instagram selfies. Eventually, everyone goes home, although Jones goes down by the water to practice flying a rental sea plane in preparation for next week. It’s not quite what he’s used to flying, although he has few problems with it, and should be as ready as he’s going to be for flying Detective Daniels into Mexico next week.

The next morning, Jones again receives a phone call about the firearm that arrived a week ago. He says he’ll pick it up sometime today. Against his better judgment, he calls Eli and indicates he has a gun he needs him to examine, as he’s worried someone has tampered with it. Eli agrees to meet him after work, around 4:30 or so.

Kevin meets with The Voice and lets him know about yesterday’s occurrences — that the L.A. Rats showed up and appear to have forced his hand, so he would be interested in potentially working for the King’s Court. He would want to secure protection for his cabal and their families. The Voice thinks this is possible. However, he indicates that working for the King’s Court requires an oath of secrecy to work with the King of Scales, and so Kevin’s entire cabal would have to agree, as they hold no illusions about the fact that one loyal person surrounded by an unattached cabal is unlikely to maintain their level of secrecy. He admonishes Kevin to speak with his cabal and contact him again when some level of consensus is reached.

Kevin returns to his house and calls the others; Jones, Kevin, and Leah all meet at Leah’s house. He recounts The Voice’s offer, and once again, the conversation becomes heated as Kevin seems to think Jones is too aloof and completely rejects the idea of allying with the King’s Court when Kevin’s friends and family have been threatened. Jones disagrees, indicating he’s merely expressing his misgivings, but if Kevin is going to be unreasonable, Jones isn’t going to talk to him until he calms himself. Jones leaves for a walk, and Kevin, still fuming, heads outside to wait by his car so Jones can’t leave without talking to him. When Jones returns and sees that Kevin is still mad, he still refuses to talk to him, getting into his car and driving home.

An irritated Kevin goes back inside, and after grumbling, heads back to his own house.

While Jones and Kevin have their tiff, Leah decides to call Amadeus of Tyrannicide. She indicates she wants to discuss some things; they eventually agree that Amadeus and Sara will meet Leah at her house around 6 PM tonight.

During his afternoon, Jones goes to the gun store to pick up his Springfield XD .45, and inquire about where it was held during delivery. (Apparently it was a postal error here in Los Angeles.) Jones later receives a text from Jane indicating that she’s meeting Rosie for drinks after work, probably around 6:30 PM or so. He thinks he should be able to meet her then.

Jones meets Eli around 4:30 and shows him his new firearm, explaining that it was held, and he doesn’t know if any of the local organizations, like the King’s Court, tried to tamper with it. Eli makes a comment about authority always trying to overstep its bounds, and then examines it for a few minutes, dismantling it. He indicates the gun has not yet been fired; it has no “soul.” Jones asks him to explain, and Eli proceeds to note that a gun picks up impressions of the owner as it’s used, much in the same way animists thought a tool gains a spirit as it’s used. This one appears unfired, and indeed, has not been cursed or modified. He returns it to Jones and tells him to ask if he needs anything else.

Once Jones takes his leave, he has about an hour and a half to kill until he needs to meet Jane and Rosie.

Meanwhile, while Kevin is contemplating the day at his house, he tries to see if he can sense Jasper Fitzroy through the holes. Straining, he senses an edge to the network of portals; the mystical grid containing them seems localized to Los Angeles and the surrounding areas. He becomes aware of the city as an entity, and similarly senses the L.A. Rats feeding on the city like parasites. He estimates there are no more than half a dozen of them, although he cannot be sure of the number. Likewise, he senses the King of Scales, in some strange symbiosis with the city. Although, the thought occurs to him — is it his thought or the city’s thought? — that Los Angeles does not need these scavengers feasting on its roots. Perhaps it needs a representative instead, someone who truly understands it.

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Session 26

Friday, January 28, 2011

Leah goes out in her backyard to meditate and take golden hour Instagram selfies. Kevin eventually wanders out back as well, ostensibly also in the hopes of calming himself.

Meanwhile, Jones goes for his walk. On the way, he notices a house in the neighborhood has been vandalized, the phrase “GAMMA SOLDIER SOJOURNS” spraypainted across its garage door. He exclaims an incredulous, “Really?” at this intrusion of the Weird again into his life, startling a nearby man walking his dog. He passes it off as he forgot something, and continues on his way. When he eventually turns around to go back to Leah’s house, he decides to head to the porch and peer in the windows of the vandalized house. It’s well-furnished, although there is a record turntable in the front hallway, plugged into a wall outlet but somewhat incongruously placed. He decides not to mess with this any further, and returns to Leah’s house.

With everyone out back, Jones sits down and turns the television to sports. Kevin eventually notices that Jones is back and leaves Leah to go inside. He wordlessly sits down, and Jones and Kevin eventually work out their differences the traditional way — by avoiding addressing their previous disagreement and instead talking about sports.

When Leah comes back in, she gets Jones a beer, and Jones mentions the graffiti in her neighborhood. Leah says that’s the Walkers’ house — for some oddball reason, they winter in New York and summer in Los Angeles — but she’ll let Charlene, the HOA president, know. Assuming she doesn’t already.

After another hour or so, Kevin takes his leave. As Jones has work early the next morning, he leaves shortly thereafter, although Leah lets him know that Jane will be at Kevin’s party tomorrow, in case that’s an issue.

When Jones gets home, he contemplates gutter magick to find where Jasper went. He purchases some items on eBay — Hollywood memorabilia, mostly, including one really nice piece — to use in some potential ritual.

The next day, Jones and Leah go through their days while Kevin, Felicia, and Otis prepare for the party. Many of the standard beach folks start arriving as dusk approaches. Mabel and Jane appear shortly thereafter, and Mabel brings a giant bottle of Maker’s Mark. Jones appears after an hour or so, as does Leah with Bex and Lorenzo in tow. Kevin greets people as they arrive and grills tacos. Jane greets Jones warmly when he arrives, apparently already a glass into the whiskey. He still doesn’t know what to make of their relationship, so he talks to Mabel for a bit.

People mingle and hang out. Jones makes his way back over to Jane, and after a brief conversation, Jones introduces her to Leah, as well as Bex and Lorenzo. Leah complements Jane on her outfit, a fitted suit and pencil skirt. She asks where she obtained it, and Jane notes it was a thrift store find; Leah notes that she could do with another thrift store buddy, and they should hang out some time. After pleasantries are exchanged, Jane and Jones make their way over to one of Kevin’s couches to talk. Kevin interrupts as he passes the conversation, having never formally met Jane before, and Jones makes introductions. Kevin tells her she’s welcome any time; she’s part of the family now.

As Jones inquires a little more about her, a rather intoxicated Jane again alludes to her youth in Tull, Arkansas. It was unpleasant, and she’s not particularly inclined to relive it while she’s having a good time, but the important part is that she left as soon as she could. She continues to explain that she joined a group called the Sect of the Naked Goddess out in Las Vegas. If she were in a different state of mind, she probably would have never even gone to the meeting, but she was at the point in her life where checking out a probable cult on a lark seemed like a good idea. Likewise, she was at just the right point to stay behind when asked by the high priestess, even though she had sussed out that this was probably some sort of sex cult. She still doesn’t know why the priestess selected her, but she decided to show her the videotape.

It’s glorious, transcendent. It starts out as raw footage from a pornography film, and as uncomfortable as watching a porno tape with a bunch of strangers sounds, there comes a point where the woman glows with an inner light. This white light eventually washes out the entire scene, until it’s all that remains until the tape runs out.

It doesn’t sound like much in the telling, but it’s completely life-altering in a way Jane cannot fully describe. She joined the Sect of the Naked Goddess after that, but didn’t really participate in their sex rituals. Instead of their rote mimicry of her sex acts — which, admittedly, did result in actual miracles — she was more taken with the Naked Goddess as the Woman Everybody Can Have But You, the unattainable, self-made woman. She started following that path, and it worked for her.

Jones inquires about what she does these days — he’s had a vague, sneaking suspicion she might work in porn herself for a few days now — and she indicates she’s just a boring office drone, working as a secretary downtown. It’s chosen like many other things in her life: it’s something she can pretty much leave at any time.

Meanwhile, Leah is pleasantly surprised when Clark arrives. She introduces Clark to Bex and Lorenzo, and they speak for a while before Clark goes to say hello to Kevin. Kevin is also surprised to see Clark, and offers him a taco, in much the same way he has greeted the rest of the revelers. Clark notes that he probably cannot stay too long, but it would have been rude of him not to come. He returns to talk with Leah.

Dr. George Wei also arrives and makes a beeline to Kevin. A couple of the partygoers in the backyard seem surprised to see him, as he is their math professor at university, but Kevin tells them to cut him a break.

Mabel eventually goes out to the front porch to smoke, eventually being joined by Bex, Clark, Felicia, Jane, Leah, and Lorenzo. Felicia, by this point, is drunk enough to hit naked o’clock, largely lounging in her underwear. Eventually, weed makes an appearance; Bex, Felicia, Leah, Lorenzo, and Mabel all partake.

Jones heads to the backyard and talks to Kevin and Dr. Wei. He eventually takes Dr. Wei aside and asks him about the phrase “Gamma soldier sojourns,” explaining that it is something he keeps coming across. Dr. Wei notes he is unfamiliar, and with limited information, the phrase could potentially mean anything. It could refer to gamma rays, certainly, or since “gamma” is the third letter of the Greek alphabet, it could mean “the third soldier sojourns.” He honestly doesn’t know, although Jones thanks him for giving him things to consider.

As they round the corner to the front porch, a car approaches. As it passes, the phrase, “the maiden, the mother, the crone,” is clearly audible. As the headlamps cross the porch, both Jones and Leah see the scene change as the shadows lengthen. Felicia appears totally nude, bearing a penis and her features more androgynous than normal. Jane also appears nude, her face cloaked in shadow by a hood or nun’s habit. Mabel appears to have great, feathered angel wings emerging from her back. Both Clark and George Wei have a spot of white light on their brows, right on the ajna chakra.

After an instant, the lights pass and the vision disappears. Jones asks if anyone else saw that, that everyone was outed; Leah replies affirmatively. Nobody else apparently saw the same transition. He asks if anyone caught the song, and Mabel indicates it’s “Maiden, Mother & Crone” by The Sword. Since Bex and Lorenzo are present, he decides to leave his inquiries aside for the moment, and since he has work tomorrow, he’ll probably head home. He says his farewells to everyone; Jane asks if she can accompany him, and he agrees.

After Jones has left, Clark similarly says he ought to go as he has business requiring his attention. Leah asks if she can accompany him, and he agrees. She’ll no doubt be back around to pick up Bex and Lorenzo after a little while.

Clark runs past the bar to check on a few things, and while they’re there, he offers Leah a drink. She takes the opportunity to again seduce him before he has other affairs requiring his attention, and drops her off at Kevin’s house to pick up her friends. Dr. Wei similarly leaves around that time

As the night continues, most of the party — with the exceptions of Felicia and Mabel — go night surfing. Eventually, the party breaks up and most of the guests stagger home.

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Session 25

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The misty shape coalesces into a black form — a woman in Victorian mourning garb, with heavy veils over her face. Dr. Wei sighs and turns to Jones, Kevin, and Leah, indicating that he’s probably not going to get anything out of her. He asks about Leah’s friend, but the spectral woman doesn’t seem to know anything about her. Dr. Wei explains that she’s a ghoul, a ghostly mourner, and will probably only know questions about death and the dead. Kevin asks about suspicious activity, and the woman doesn’t specifically know anything, while Jones and Leah both ask about dead loved ones; Jones asks about an old Air Force buddy who died back in Somalia, while Leah asks about her mother — the woman doesn’t know them, either, and suspects they have “passed on.” When asked about Iggy, she says she doesn’t know him. The woman then fades, and the bowl is empty.

Dr. Wei apologizes, suspecting that the ghoul reacted to the cow blood in the bowl. It’s impossible to predict what a ghost might want, though. Kevin notes that they might be able to catch a drunk with alcohol, and Dr. Wei agrees to try the ritual again. Kevin heads down the street to a liquor store, and upon his return, Dr. Wei fills the bowl with rotgut. After a few minutes of waiting, a misty shape again forms, but this time coalesces into a heavily-swaddled Hispanic man, probably an vagrant. He leans down by the bowl and begins scooping liquor into his mouth with his hand. Dr. Wei again asks about Leah’s friend, but the man seems out of it and doesn’t seem to be aware of her. The only thing he really notes is that some people enter, but fewer leave — those that leave sometimes exit from the front or the back. As for the building next door, all of those who enter eventually leave.

The vagrant ghost similarly dissipates with little fanfare, leaving the group to discuss these matters. With nothing further to be done, Dr. Wei takes his leave, although he notes that he will poke around and see if he can find anything about this strange building. If they need anything more from him, feel free to contact him. Kevin invites him to his taco night on Saturday, and Dr. Wei says he will probably be there.

After Dr. Wei leaves, the group decides to investigate the adjacent building. As they return to the sidewalk, Kevin passes near the door of 811 Wilshire and it opens. They decide not to enter, however, but at least they can bypass the door if necessary. Since the neighboring building requires people to be buzzed up, Leah loiters outside and finally catches someone entering, convincing them that she misplaced her key and needs to get back in the building. Once she enters, she wastes time investigating her purse until the man who let her in takes the elevator; she then opens the door for Jones and Kevin. They proceed to the second floor and take the skyway to 811 Wilshire. Kevin focuses and notes that the city’s holes stop at 811 Wilshire; they persist even as close as the skyway joining the two buildings. They open the doors to the 811 Wilshire mezzanine, and while the doors open without incident, there is a guard desk with one of the guards in white uniforms sitting at it. He glowers at the three of them as they peer into the mezzanine, and Leah waves as they close the doors.

Deciding that they don’t want to push their luck by entering the building again, Jones drives everyone back to his house so they can return to their cars and go their separate ways. Kevin brings up the prospect of inviting members of the local occult underground so as to keep on friendly terms with people. They mention Clark, and Leah texts him, but doesn’t think he’ll come. (He texts back saying he’ll see if he can make it, although he does ask for Kevin’s address.) The prospect of inviting Tyrannicide arises, but no one ever commits to the idea. Mabel has already been invited. They do decide to invite the American Dream, however, and Kevin tells Leah to invite Bex as well. She figures she might invite Lorenzo, although she’ll think about it. Kevin mentions the prospect of Jones inviting Detective Willett, but after some discussion — largely about his upcoming Mexico trip — he seems sullen about the idea and vetoes it. Leah asks about inviting Jane, and he also says, “No.” In terms of business tomorrow, Kevin says he’ll investigate the records at City Hall tomorrow about the building. Jones drives Kevin home, and afterward, goes walking on the beach. Between two houses, he comes across an unkempt old homeless man being harassed by two college kids; he manages to defuse the situation by engaging them about sports, distracting them from the homeless guy long enough for him to scurry away. After they wander away, Jones continues his vigil for a while, walking the beach. When he finds nothing further, he heads home.

At home, Jones tries to call some friends and see if they can point him in a direction to learn anything about 811 Wilshire, but they don’t know anything.

Leah is interrupted from her evening activities from a phone call from an unknown number. She answers it to find it is The Dealer. He wishes to apologize for any initial impressions she may have of him, and indicate that he wants to talk to her about something. He does not feel comfortable discussing it over the phone, and she has to meet him alone, somewhere semi-private. The The King’s Court does not know he is meeting her, and he would prefer to keep it that way. They agree on the backroom of Chakras at about noon.

The next day, Kevin heads to City Hall and pokes around. The building’s records seem to be in order, but the owners on record appear to be dead Indonesian businessman Nasrudin Zulkarnaen and some Azerbaijani holding company called EL Holding. Clearly a little odd. He sends a text to Jones to let him know that the records check out.

Leah is getting ready for her day and contacts Kevin to let him know that she’s meeting The Dealer. The Dealer won’t come if he’s watching, but would he be able to hang around nearby? He says he can. He heads over around 11 AM, and hides in a “hole.”

Leah also gets the distinct impression she’s being watched, sometime a little after 10 AM. She can’t determine anything else about it, although she’s become aware that she can sense people watching her as of yesterday. The feeling doesn’t go away until she arrives at Chakras.

The Dealer arrives shortly after Leah, and Leah makes note that he’s been watching her. He chuckles enigmatically, then explains his purpose. He would be interested in investing in her eventual corporate aspirations, although that is not the primary purpose of his visit. He wishes to talk about her father. The King of Scales saw fit to send Jasper away to gain his domain, even though killing him probably would have been the easier option. The Dealer wasn’t party to the deal with Iggy, but the general idea was that Iggy got Jasper out of the King’s domain, and Iggy got to leave town with no trouble after having built up enough of a life for himself that he had something to throw away. The Dealer further wishes to convey that the King’s Court had no method of interacting with her father, as he was unaware of his occult power, and could not be certain of his trustworthiness. As such, he was perhaps removed unwisely. As far as he knows, Jasper is in Algeria, although it’s possible he’s moved in the meantime as the King’s Court is not keeping tabs on him. He definitely doesn’t know where Iggy is; not keeping track of him was part of the bargain Iggy struck with the King of Scales.

Leah finishes by asking when she’ll get her map and pipe, and The Dealer indicates that she’ll get them by the auction as she asked, probably around whenever tickets get printed. With nothing further, The Dealer takes his leave and says he’ll be in touch.

Leah texts Kevin and Kevin calls her back, although his voice is distorted. He directs her to a spot about a block away and tries to pull her into one of his “holes,” but the act of leaning out dislodges him enough that he spills back onto the street. Fortunately, no one other than Leah sees him doing so. Leah conveys what The Dealer told her, and they agree to have a meeting tonight, at her house, around 5 PM. They’ll let Jones know when he’s off work. Discussing Jones segues into speculation about his love life, given how sullen he seemed to be when the topics of Willett and Jane were mentioned last evening, and Kevin notes that Mabel already invited Jane to his party, so he doesn’t know how that will turn out.

After Kevin and Leah part company, they continue about their respective days. Kevin calls Jones in the afternoon to let him know that Leah was pulled into a meeting with The Dealer, and they’re going to meet about it at her house at 5 PM. To unwind, Jones sits and people watches until it’s time to head over to Leah’s house.

Everyone assembles around 5 PM, and Leah has tea and beer ready. She explains her encounter with The Dealer, and Jones seems skeptical as that information is primarily things they already knew, and could very well have been a staged encounter. The group then discusses future plans. When talk turns to long-term planning, Kevin notes that he knows what he wants and what Leah wants, but what does Jones want? His tone turns accusatory as he claims that Jones is judgmental and self-righteous, but Jones notes he doesn’t get what he ultimately wants — to just rest on a beach with drinks and a beautiful woman by his side. As Kevin grills Jones on what he wants from the occult underground, he notes that he doesn’t know what he’s doing — he describes his exasperation with the 50-year cost for the Whitley Folio — and he doesn’t have someone in a hierarchy above him to tell him what to do or whom to kill without thinking about it. Jones takes this opportunity to excuse himself and go for a walk.

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Session 24

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Jones, Kevin, and Leah all meet at Jones’ house and pile into his car. They then travel to the lobby of 811 Wilshire and get coffee at the coffee shop while waiting for the police. Kevin looks around for holes and determines that there are none in the building — an odd occurrence, as they are usually all over the city. After maybe twenty minutes or so, Detective Willett arrives with a couple of other police officers. They speak to some of the people milling about, head to the dentist’s office, knock on the door, and go inside. They re-emerge in a half hour, and then take the elevator — Detective Willett looks a little nervous at the prospect — in an attempt to look around the building. They’re gone for another half-hour before returning to the lobby, apparently thanking some of the building staff for their assistance, and leaving.

Deciding there is nothing further to be done, Jones, Kevin, and Leah leave. Jones receives a text message from Willett indicating there is no evidence of anything that happened to Bex. While in the car, Jones, Kevin, and Leah plot their next move — should they focus on this? Should they keep working on the auction? Should they try to negotiate for the Whitley Folio? While discussing the possibility of talking to The Voice, Leah gets a phone call from an unknown number. When she answers it, it turns out to be The Voice, asking if she is available to meet, as he has a message to deliver from the King’s Court. He would prefer to meet somewhere somewhat private. She asks if her associates can accompany her, and he says as long as she trusts them, it should be fine. Since the King’s Court probably knows where she lives anyway, she settles on her house. He agrees to meet her there.

When Jones pulls up in front of her house, there is a limo parked across the street, and her light are on. The trio cautiously opens the door, and she calls out, prompting The Voice to round the corner. She chides him for entering her house uninvited, and he apologizes, explaining that has come because The Dealer wishes to speak with her. She does not agree to allowing The Dealer in her home, so The Voice motions to the limo and The Dealer, accompanied by a couple of bodyguards in suits, emerges. They have a conversation in front of Leah’s house; The Dealer reacts with mock insult that he was not invited to her auction. After some back-and-forth and input from the rest of the group, Leah says he can attend as a guest if he will return the map and pipe that were stolen from her and Kevin. He says he should be able to arrange for the return of these objects before the auction. They’ll be in touch.

With that resolved, The Dealer and The Voice bid the cabal good night and return to their limo. Jones, Kevin, and Leah continue to discuss matters, as well as what they wish to do next. They decide they’d rather ask forgiveness than permission, so they definitely won’t inform the King’s Court that they’re trying to rescue Jasper Fitzroy. Given what’s occurring at the moment, the proper order of operations seems to be working on the auction, Jones helping out his police contact in two weeks, and then everyone heading to Algeria to find Jasper. In the meantime, they can look into this haunted building on Wilshire, although it may not be top priority. In terms of people to help them deal with it, they decide on Dr. George Wei, as he seems like he would no doubt be interested in a building anomaly, and he seems vaguely trustworthy. Kevin contacts him, and Dr. Wei sets up an appointment for Thursday at 4:30 PM.

The next couple of days pass without incident — Jones and Kevin work, while Leah meets with Melker to further plan the auction. Jones, Kevin, and Leah meet at the mathematics department at UCLA to meet with Dr. Wei at 4:30. His office is roughly what one would expect, and Jones, Kevin, and Leah proceed to explain about this mysterious building on Wilshire Boulevard and the fact that one of their friends was attacked there. He says he has time to check it out, and given how dangerous it appears to be, the others insist on coming with him. Dr. Wei and Kevin will enter, while the others wait nearby in case there is trouble.

When Dr. Wei and Kevin arrive at 811 Wilshire, the reception is immediately hostile. All eyes seem upon them, and when Dr. Wei enters a shop, he is quickly accused of attempting to shoplift and asked to leave. Kevin texts Jones and Leah, and when they arrive, they find that they are all treated with the same disdain. They leave 811 Wilshire and discuss plans. Dr. Wei says he’d like to try something and attempts to re-enter, but the doors will not permit him entry into the building. This now seems to be the case for Jones, Kevin, and Leah, as well. After further discussion, Dr. Wei says he thinks he can get some answers, and asks for the location of a butcher shop. Kevin directs him to Belcampo Meat Co. on Broadway, and he says he’ll be back. He returns in twenty-five minutes with a container of blood and a dish, and heads to the back alley. Jones warns him of the camera, but he suspects the building’s owners are already aware of his nature. He pours the blood into the dish and advises the others to wait. Within a few minutes, a misty shape begins to form over the bowl.

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