Sunday, June 26, 2011
When Leah composes herself, she and Felicia are quiet for a while. Felicia finally asks what’s wrong, prompting Leah to unload, complaining about how Jones is so stubborn and paranoid. Felicia agrees, but notes that Leah is probably going to have to talk to him again — and soon! — if they want to finish this whole ritual work business. Leah agrees.
They’re interrupted by the discharge of a gun.
After the gunshot, there’s some cracking and scraping; Leah and Felicia quickly surmise that it’s people coming through the door in Kevin’s room. Leah calls Jones.
Jones is contemplating his choices on the beach — he’s fairly certain he’s right, but being right seems to have upset everyone — when he hears the distant sound of gunfire. Just one, and he can’t pinpoint it; not exactly uncommon in L.A., but worth marking. When he glances around, he sees a group of five people heading in the direction of the grotto. The one with the gate to Angeliy.
He moves to intercept, taking their measure as he does. There is an African-American woman, two African-American men, and two Hispanic men. Among them, they’re carrying two duffel bags, albeit not weighted like they’re carrying weapons. He suspects all five are also carrying concealed pistols.
When they realize they’re being tailed, they start moving away from the grotto, confirming Jones’ suspicions that they’re headed specifically for the Otherspace. As he’s crossing to meet them, his phone rings.
It’s Leah. He gives the five travelers, who have clearly noticed him at this point, the gesture for them to wait while he answers the phone. There’s some back and forth about what to do before he hears the gunshot — both over the phone and on the beach. It’s a lot louder on the phone.
Meanwhile, Leah is talking on the phone with Jones and heading toward the door of the room. She quickly realizes that Felicia is no longer with her; Felicia is quietly trying to open the window, and looks somewhat incredulously at Leah, who is moving toward gunfire and heavy footfalls. She gestures for Leah to follow, which she does. Felicia goes out the window, and as she’s helping Leah move, the door opens, a man in tactical garb — but incongruously with a “THEATRE SECURITY” patch — shouts, “FREEZE!” and he fires.
Leah’s ears are ringing, but she’s out the window and unharmed. Felicia has her by the hand, slips out of the back gate in Kevin’s house, and is moving through back alleys until they are a sufficient distance away. Leah notices that Felicia seems like an old hand at this sort of thing, sneaking out of houses and through back alleys.
Jones puts his phone down, and informs the five of the situation — he has no desire to interfere, but his friends need help, right now. If they’re willing to help, he’s willing to assist whatever they’re doing. One of them says they likely don’t need the help, while another says it absolutely sounds like trouble at Kevin’s house. Sounds like he ought to get over there if he wants to help. Jones hesitates, but leaves; before he goes, he asks for an introduction from the man who spoke about Kevin’s house, and he introduces himself as Steve. Jones jogs over to find Felicia and Leah.
Otis gets Kevin’s attention when he hears gunshots, and they return to the beach and examine the situation. Felicia and Leah are hiding in an alley a couple of houses over, while Jones goes to meet them; clearly the situation is somewhat under control, so they decide to wait on the beach and watch.
There is little activity on the beach, although some of the beach-goers seem to have registered the noise. (Nobody knows enough to be concerned yet.) Kevin’s house is silent, although after a bit of watching, Kevin and Otis see movement: three men in paramilitary garb moving behind the fence. Two of the men poke their heads out of the back gate and look around before returning to his house. Kevin decides to call Jones.
Jones meets with Felicia and Leah and determines they are all right. After briefly discussing what to do to retake the house, they are interrupted when Kevin calls Jones. He reports what he has seen, and they consider people whom they can contact about these matters. Knowing that Shake and Tom are still in town, they settle on the two of them. Jones makes the call.
Shake and Tom are amenable to assist, and so are on their way. Jones also calls Detective Willett in case she can keep this situation under control; she says she will see what she can do. While Felicia, Jones, and Leah wait, Kevin and Otis see more movement in the yard, and one of the paramilitary security agents emerges, this time accompanied by something that resembles a man in a suit but with a peacock’s head instead of a man’s head. They seem to be confused by the beach and sky, and swiftly return to the house. After calming Otis, Kevin reports this to the others.
Shake and Tom quickly arrive and regroup with Felicia, Jones, and Leah. Kevin and Otis also join them to discuss plans. It is decided: Jones, Kevin, and Tom will go, with Otis trailing behind in case something goes wrong, while Felicia, Leah, and Shake will remain behind. Tom plays three rounds of Russian roulette with his snub-nose revolver — it’s apparently how he gets his mystic juice — and he’s ready. He instructs the others to stay behind him. Jones calls Leah and keeps the phone line open so communication can be constant.
The back gate and back door are still open when Jones, Kevin, and Tom arrive. Tom walks in, confronting a paramilitary person standing guard by Kevin’s room. He tells the masked man, “Why don’t you go fuck yourself,” and to the shock of any present, the man’s sleeves automatically wick through with moisture. By the color it looks like blood, as if someone carved “WHY DON’T YOU GO FUCK YOURSELF” into his arms. The man reacts and fires, but the shot goes wide; Tom continues into the house, opening himself to the other two men currently in Kevin’s room. Both fire, but one misses (somewhat miraculously, given how easy a target Tom is), while the other grazes his side. Tom takes cover along a wall while Jones’ gun comes out.
Jones shouts through the wall that this can end peacefully, but the security agents seem confused — they indicate that this is a restricted area, and Jones and his associates need to leave so they can, “strike the set.” When it’s clear no headway will be made, Jones turns into the room and fires. He misses the agent, and gets peppered with buckshot for his trouble. Kevin runs into the room and is surprised by all three agents, all of whom immediately fire at him. He falls back, unconscious, into a pool of his own blood. When Jones grabs him and drags him out of the room, however, he awakens, apparently his wounds not as terrible as they first appeared. Tom tells Jones and Kevin to get out, he has an idea; he spins the cylinder on his gun and fires it twice, coming up empty both times.
There’s a pause, followed by a tense exchange of gunfire. One of the gunmen emerges from Kevin’s room, and Tom tells the others to let him go. One of the security agents apparently turned on the others — possession, Tom explains.
The group drags the bodies into the backstage Otherspace, although Otis sees the carnage and vomits outside the back door, clearly in the midst of a panic attack. Well aware that the police will arrive before too long, and unable to calm him, Jones just leads him to his room and closes the door. Kevin takes some of the blood mixed with his blood, and forms an “X” over the door. Whatever symbolic power he was able to summon was apparently not quite enough, as the door decreases in size by half. The top of the door jamb literally shrinks down, bisecting the door and coming to a halt right where the door knob would have been had it not been blown off. Kevin sets to covering the door again. Jones calls Detective Willett, and learns that police are arriving, but don’t quite know the origin of the gunshots. If everyone just stays calm, it should be okay. She’ll be around when she can. Tom sits in Kevin’s blood-covered room, applying pressure to his side, while Jones’ adrenaline wears off and he realizes how woozy he is. He vomits in the toilet and then tries to remain conscious in the bathroom.
Meanwhile, Felicia, Leah, and Shake note that people react to the various gunshots, as it is clear there is some manner of active shooter on the beach. They hear the chaos, and when things start to settle, they decide Mabel’s house is safest. She is returning as they arrive; she evidently went wandering to try to figure out where the shots originated. Mabel and Shake are introduced, and they proceed to hole up until things die down.
Things calm down. The police investigate the beach, unable to find anything, and Kevin calls Felicia to let her know that someone needs medical attention. When Felicia arrives, she starts to work on Jones. She has another panic attack, but Kevin manages to talk her down, and with some effort, she is able to knit his flesh back together. She scoops out the buckshot and drops it in the stoppered sink, although with some scraps of tissue and shirt she ends up removing. Felicia then goes to Otis’ room to see to him. Kevin gets a change of clothing for Jones, and Tom’s wounds get bandaged.
When Detective Willett arrives, she is introduced to Tom, and Jones informs her as to what happened, including the people going into the Khalifastan Otherspace. There’s no way she can reasonably stop them — how would she even ask for backup for such a thing? — but the fact has been noted. Jones assures her they’re working on the matter. With nothing further for either side, she takes her leave.
After tidying as much as possible, and checking to see if Otis is okay — he and Felicia seem to have progressed to making out when Kevin checks on them — Felicia, Jones, Kevin, Otis, and Tom all move to Mabel’s house. Jones also calls Jane to let her know what happened, and to ask if she can bring a change of clothes.
The group reconvenes at Mabel’s house. Mabel and Tom are introduced, and the group discusses what transpired since they parted company. (Jones and Leah also apologize to each other for the earlier argument.) When Jane arrives, she makes introductions — Shake and Tom don’t recognize her, although she has met them before; Tom assumes Jones told her their names — Jones takes her aside to speak to her alone for a moment, broaching the subject of the sex ritual. She is willing to participate, if they go that route, but the menstrual fluid component would require another week or so to procure.
When Jane and Jones leave the room, Tom expresses incredulity at the fact that Jane is Jones’ girlfriend, and perhaps moreso at the fact that every person he meets in this cabal is prettier than the last.
When the conversation is rejoined, the group eventually decides to engage in further preparations. Since Kevin knows he can close the gateway with more mojo, he sets out to quickly gather it by taking risks in traffic, a specific symbolic interaction he has been loath to attempt, but it seems relevant now. The others agree, although Tom remarks that he’s not certain it is wise for the best ritualist in the group to go playing in traffic. Meanwhile, Jane, Jones, and Leah are going to go shopping for supplies — a wagon, cage, and some other essentials — to attempt to capture another animal from Khalifastan, assuming that the original trap is too heavily monitored or will have been lost.
Kevin rides his bike around the city, trying to cut corners and find shortcuts. Although he is successful on his first trip, he takes a turn too quickly on the second trip and wipes out in oncoming traffic, losing consciousness when he is dashed against an oncoming bus.
Jane, Jones, and Leah are at the hardware store when they receive the call that something has happened to Kevin. They make their way over to the hospital; Jones is angry and annoyed when he receives the news that Kevin is in critical condition, and takes a walk around the block to calm himself. They call Felicia to report this news to Otis, who can then call Kevin’s parents. When they realize that Kevin’s parents probably have a key, they also broach the subject of cleaning the blood; Tom takes care of it with a couple of rounds of Russian roulette, although he admits he doesn’t know what will have changed when they arrive at the house. Since the group doesn’t have infinite time to wait, and is keen on completing at least one of these rituals before their unknown deadline, they decide to leave and finish their errand. The hospital will keep them updated if there is a change in Kevin’s condition.
While leaving the hospital, Leah receives a call from an unknown number. It turns out to be Shannon, questioning why they threatened to kill Brandon earlier. Leah explains that it was a misunderstanding, which Shannon accepts — Brandon can be kind of an ass sometimes — and she offers to help if they need it. (Not that she expects they would need help from little old her; Leah is immediately reminded precisely why she originally gave the burner phone to Shannon. Apparently, Shannon received her number from Brandon, as she said she would try to sort it all out on his behalf.) Leah doesn’t have anything for her to do specifically, although it’s good to hear that Shannon has some ritual experience, but says she will let her know as they try to navigate their ritual work.
Their shopping trip is only interrupted by one more phone call, this time from Felicia asking what to do with the tarps? Apparently, whatever magick Tom cast helpfully put tarps down to catch all the blood. Jones says to just put them in the shed, along with any of the ripped and bloodied clothing that still might be about.
They receive another phone call on the way home, letting them know Kevin is stable and is expected to recover. Currently focused on completing this ritual, they will deal with that tomorrow.
Once the group reconvenes at Mabel’s house, they decide to complete their errand for ritual components. Jones, Leah, Mabel, and Tom will go to Khalifastan in the hopes of capturing some local example of wildlife. To draw less attention, Leah abandons the veil she has been wearing since receiving her facial scars back in the spring — Shake takes her hand and tries to comfort her when she removes it, as he knows that’s a big deal for her.
Jones, Leah, Mabel, and Tom take their equipment and start heading to the cave to Angeliy. Aware that they may encounter the travelers Jones encountered earlier, in addition to any other opposition on the other side, they move slowly, pretending as if they’re researching and trying to determine where to go. As they come into view of the cave, they see a man and a woman, both African-American, with pistols drawn. Once they recognize Jones, they relax slightly, apparently recognizing him from earlier and knowing that he is in-the-know, as it were. Jones indicates that they’re going across to Khalifastan, and the two standing guard apparently have no problem with this as long as everyone can be civil going in and out. They keep a wary eye on each other as they pass, however…
…particularly since Leah realizes, during the course of conversation, that she recognizes the man’s voice. He was the main speaker among the group of masked men who invaded the auction to steal The Box. Once they reach the other side, she informs the others of this fact, along with the fact that the masked gunmen clearly had some sort of magick of their own. They were able to convince the police to stand down “for America,” as well as the now-dead gunman inflicting some manner of magickal blast on Alex González.
With that passed, the group goes searching for wildlife. Leah spots something that resembles a chimp digging in a sand dune, and the group goes over to see it is more man-like, and wearing pants. It is clearly not a chimp, instead being a three-foot-tall hairy man-thing. It comes over to investigate the food they leave, and it sniffs at Leah before Jones tries to shoo it away. Dejected, the thing leaves.
Resuming their search, they spot a raccoon digging through some garbage. Jones moves toward it, hoping to capture it, but it starts to trundle away. He charges after it, tackling it to the ground; it gives him a nasty bite for his trouble, but he manages to wrestle it into the cage.
The quartet returns to the cave without incident. There is another tense crossing, accompanied by Leah giving the male guard a very intense stink-eye — he clearly recognizes that something is up, possibly even noting that she recognizes him. Still, nobody starts trouble and the crossing is peaceful.
Upon returning to Mabel’s house with the Otherspatial raccoon, Jones disinfects and wraps his hand. The group then plots how best to bypass or defeat the guards by the gate to Khalifastan so they may complete the ritual and finally seal the gateway.