USW: Tip the World Over on Its Side

Session 36

Thursday, February 24, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Session 35

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Session 34

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Session 33

Saturday, February 12, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Session 32

Monday, February 7, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Session 31

Saturday, February 5, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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.

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.

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.

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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