Repo Mage

07NOV15-08NOV15
Weekend Interlude

Saturday – Sunday

Mark goes with Shelly to buy his birthday bike.

He spends time training with Ashley.

Jen works on getting ready to sell her shop.

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06NOV15
A Good Day

Friday

With Shelly drained from the ritual to expel Laschiel and no protective wards on her, things end up getting a little interesting. She wakes early in the morning, her Hunger pushing for her to feed. Without the wards in place and with the echo of Laschiel still in the process of fading, her aura is stronger and larger than usual. She feeds while her, Mark and Jen have fun. Nine months from now, several neighbors will be having children born.

After waking a few hours later, Mark takes the time to place the wards on a still sleeping Shelly so a repeat of last night doesn’t happen. Since everyone overslept, they decide to let the kids stay home from school. Mark brings the spellbook back to Alphonse, and comes back home to relax and have a good day with the family.

Mark finds out about Antony’s crush on Sammie Dean, a fellow student and Sci-Fi Club member. The kids decide to have a sleepover, and invite JR to head over after school. They all make plans to go to a local carnival that night.

Mark and Jen talk, and she discusses closing and liquidating her shop. She wants to try and help fund Mark buying the rest of the building that his office is currently in, and growing the business. Also, she’s ready to get her hands dirty and get back to some of the fun things of the past, the last few weeks having brought back up those old instincts and feelings. She also agrees to let Mark get a motorbike for his birthday.

They go to the fair, even Cross going. There, the kids run into May and her friends. An argument breaks out, but the kids manage to walk away without a fight. Ash hides out in the bathroom for a bit, Teresa and Cross with her. Mark questions JR and Antony about things, to find out that May has really been bullying Ashley. The girls come out, and they all head off to have some fun. Cross makes several comments about ending the problem, but Mark lets her know that A) she can’t just do that to a kid, and B) Ashley has to learn to stand up for herself. He makes plans to teach her a little trick when they get home.

As they’re getting ready some time later, the kids walk up arm-in-arm. Ashley is covered in slushie, someone having accidentally tripped and spilled several on her. The kids know that May hexed someone to cause the accident, and JR and Teresa stood up for her and almost got into a fight. She calls them both her heroes.

They pass by Cross’s place so she can get some of her own clothes instead of borrowing from Ashley or Shelly, and head back home.

There, Mark brings Ashley outside to teach her counterspells and dispells. He tells her the story of how May’s mother – Denise – was the same way when they were in school. It’s a group of witches that pass down their power over the generations, each becoming the “mean girls” of the school, all but controlling it. Mark tells her how he dispelled the glamours she had on at school in front of everyone, embarrassing her when her flawless appearance vanished.

They practice, as he teaches her that an inproper dispell can actually cause either the target spell to become stronger, or cause a backlash as both spells expend all their energy wildly. It takes her a while, but she gets the hang of it, even managing to dispell a glamour Mark puts up while he actively works against her, thanks to some words of encouragement from Cross.

They go inside and watch some movies, before heading upstairs for bed.

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05NOV15
Light At The End Of The Tunnel

Thursday

Everyone at Mark’s place wakes up, including a now well rested Jacob. Jacob calls and apologizes to Zara, and she agrees to head over to Mark’s to meet up with them.

At breakfast, an overly cheerful Teresa shows up and asks to crash there for a while, as her father had to go out of town for work and she’d already gone through all the food at home. She notices the glitter on Jacob, and new nicknames are created. After everyone eats and the kids leave for school, Mark and Jacob wait for Zara before heading over to Nighthawks. Mark had put the call out the night before to Dylan and Midori, asking them to meet there for their help.

Mark briefs the others as to the situation, that they have the location of the warlock that cursed Shelly. He explains the security that Kane has in place, and talks with Dylan about running surveillance and with Midori about infiltrating and kidnapping him. Jacob and Zara start discussing the job that he needs to do in order to get Ginny and Alphonse off his back, and returns Zara’s security card. They decide they’re going to go in to do the job together, but also try and see if they can get the goblin mud armor from Cross first, as they know it will help. While they’re talking about this, Cross calls and tells them that all of the Kane security forces have just left the building, leaving only the hotel security. They leave and rush to the hotel room.

Once there, Dylan starts going through all the information that Agent Moore gave them, and starts getting his gear setup. Mark plans for Midori to go in stealthed to try and kidnap Gaines, and that he and Cross will go in as backup if things go sideways. Cross, who has gotten a few goblins to help case the joint and cover all the exits, says she needs to crash for a bit as she’s been up on surveillance.

Jacob and Zara ask for the goblin mud armor, which she gives to them, and then they leave. Zara knows enough about the building and security that with her remaining assets and Jacob’s skills, they feel they can complete the job by themselves. Kane is hosting an event that night – obviously how Ginny was planning on getting in – so they go acquire uniforms and a van for a catering service and sneak into the building. They get down to the sub-basements, and find the security hub that Zara was leading them towards.

They both get undressed and into the goblin mud armor. Zara hooks into the systems, using backdoors she setup and tricks she knows to get an overview and control. Jacob heads over to the elevator, and with the assistance of his telekinesis rides the cables down to sub-basement 10, where the vault in question is located.

The good news is that the vault floor is empty of people. The bad news is that it’s patrolled by Kane security robots. With Zara’s assistance, Jacob makes it to the vault’s door. The lock is a good one, and while Jacob would like to give it the time it deserves, he doesn’t have it, so he rushes through. Inside, he loses comms with Zara, so he follows the map he has and finds the golem girl – Pemmy – locked in a glass case, just standing there still as death.

He bypasses the security on the case, and opens it. Speaking the command word, he watches as Pemmy comes to a false semblence of life. He tells her to follow him, and they move through the vault – a huge, hanger like room – to where the Silver-Tongue Charm is supposed to be. He finds it on a shelf, carved rune circles surrounding it. He asks Pemmy if she knows what the circles are for, and she tells him that they are to keep in the power of the cursed item contained within. Asking for clarification, she tells him that the charm inside is a cursed charm, and that it’s power comes with a price. He pulls the charm out of the circle, feeling the protection wards drop, and bags it.

He makes it to the door, and as soon as he opens it comms with Zara return. Which is a good thing, because she reports that guards are headed down, and she’s on her way to meet him. Jacob and Pemmy almost get caught by the guard robots, but Zara disables it somehow, and the three lock themselves back in the vault in order to escape the other robots. They start looking for some way to escape, and Jacob asks Pemmy if there is any way she can help. She knows several different teleportation spells that will get them out, but she cannot cast them herself. The spells are beyond Jacob, so she instead uses his power and her knowledge – with his permission – to cast it. His thoughts are running through safe spots and places to go, and without warning from Pemmy the spell is cast while Jacob is thinking of Mark’s place.

And suddenly all three of them appear in Mark’s living room, startling Ashley. She’s sitting on the couch, an opened bottle of wine and two wine glasses on the table in front of her. She almost hexes them, but Jacob yells out that it’s them before she does. Which is when everyone realizes that Jacob and Zara are still naked and only covered in the goblin mud armor. Ashley shrieks and spins around, Jacob and Zara try to cover up. Ashley throws the sofa pillows at them, and when Jacob asks where in the house she yells out “Guest room! Not upstairs, guest room!” They leave Pemmy and rush into the guest room, slamming the door and taking a deep breath as they realize what they just pulled off. The moment is a bit too much, and they tumble together and spend the next hour or two in sweaty-fun celebration.

Across town, Mark and group have realized that not only did all the Kane security leave, but all the protective wards that were in place are gone too. Mark walks over to the hotel and goes up to the front desk, probing to see if they’ll respond to him showing up. Nothing happens, so he gets some room prices and heads back across the street. They wait a few hours and wake Cross up. Midori is going to use his Shadow Magic to teleport over, with Dylan dropping the building power just long enough to create the shadows needed for it. He’ll break into the room, and hopefully use the sedatives that Mark has been keeping for a purpose just like this to knock him out and teleport back with him. Mark and Cross are plan B.

Dylan drops the power, and Midori teleports over in the brief flicker of lights. He pauses at the door, sensing the other man in the room. He silently pops the lock, and steps in. He finds Gaines asleep on the sofa, a spilled glass of wine on the floor, an open bottle on the table. He checks on him and finds his pulse slowed and a little thready. He handcuffs him, grabs the bottle, and teleports them both back to the room.

They discuss the whole deal, thinking that things are a little too gift-wrapped for their liking. Mark asks Cross if she knows what’s in the bottle. She smells it, then shrugs and takes a swig. The narcotic in it is fast acting, and she tells them that she feels very sleepy, but otherwise it doesn’t seem like a poison. Midori gets his Healing Spirit to help counter some of the effects of the narcotic.

They close out the room, and Cross leads them to a hideout out in Charn. They tie up Gaines and run water over him to ground out the magic, and Mark has his fingers tied together, his hands cuffed and he is gagged. Mark spends some time questioning him, rapidly going to the torturing of him, but he seems to have a death wish.

While this is going on, Dylan’s phone rings. He steps outside to discover it’s Madison. She asks if her present was well received, and offers a deal. She knows that Gaines would rather die than give up the demon’s name, because if they set it free it will go after him first. So she offers the name in exchange for Zara coming back to work for her, no contract or strings. She also offers Dylan to continue his employment with her.

Dylan heads inside and discusses this with Mark, who ends up calling Zara. Jacob and Zara have showered, and are lounging in the guest room in Mark and Jen’s robes when the phone rings. On both sides, they place the phones on speaker. Dylan and Mark explain to Zara what Madison asked for, and what they’ll get in return.

Jacob is unhappy with it, but with the phone muted Zara talks to him about it. They can’t afford to have come this far and not finish helping Shelly, and Madison must already have a plan if she’s moving on this. Zara decides to go in and see what Madison’s plan is, and in doing so help Shelly now.

Shelly knocks on the guest room door, and asks through it if the two of them need her to go buy them clothes. Mark asks what’s going on, to find out that that they teleported there and have the golem girl for Alphonse. A bit of comedy as explanations and questions fly, and they hang up.

Dylan calls back Madison, and agrees to her terms for Zara. Madison thanks him, and asks to be passed over to Mark, where she gives him the name Laschiel.

Mark hangs up, and they try to decide what to do with Nicholas. Mark is afraid to let him go early, so Cross suggests that they remove his tongue, that way he can’t cast anything between now and when Laschiel comes for him. Mark likes the idea, and after removing his tongue and breaking his fingers, they let him go.

Mark and Cross head back to Mark’s, Midori and Dylan leaving to go about their own business. Once back, they find Jacob and Zara in ridiculous – closeout priced – clothing. They take Pemmy to Alphonse’s, and on the way Jacob calls Ginny to tell her to meet them there. Once there, everything is handed over and Mark receives the spellbook he needs. Jacob tries to warn Ginny about the cursed charm, but eventually wipes his hands of it all and walks out.

Jacob and Zara head out to his house, and Mark heads home with the book.

Once there, he has a talk to his daughter, then goes to research the ritual. He finds it to be incredibly simple since he has both Shelly and the demon’s name in his possession, so he goes outside to prep the casting space. Once done, he goes and talks to Shelly, explaining the risks of the ritual, and that if she wants to try it, he’s ready. He tells her that it’s likely she will still have some of the aspects of a succubus after, but much easier to control and not a possessing intelligence. She makes him promise that if she can’t come out with some manner of control and safety, that they discuss ending her. With that said, she agrees to try.

The ritual is painful for her, but is successful. Lasciel is freed from Shelly, leaving her with some of the aspects of a succubus. Mark points Laschiel in the right direction to find Gaines, and carries Shelly upstairs to the bath. He decides to wait until tomorrow after they both have time to recover in order to put the wards he found in the book on her, which will give her much greater control over the essence left inside her.

After a while, he leaves Shelly with Jen, and heads down to have a drink and a talk with Cross. They talk for a bit, before Cross finally forces him to leave her be so that he can go back up and be with Jen and Shelly. She promises she’s OK, and leaves it at that.

Mark heads up to sleep.

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04NOV15
Things Get "Interesting"

Wednesday

The next morning Mark heads Uptown in order to spell Jacob from surveillance. He uses his Emergency Shelly Credit Card – a card he’s had for years to only be used to help Shelly’s case – to rent a rather expensive room in a hotel across the street.

Jacob heads upstairs with him, planning on getting some sleep up there. Mark watches the building, and wishes that Cross would have answered his calls for help. They stakeout the place for a while, when Mark’s phone rings. It’s Nighthawks.

When he answers, Murphy is on the other line. “Get here.” He hangs up. Mark sighs, tells Jacob he needs to stay awake, and heads over to Nighthawks.

When he gets there, Murphy points over to a back corner booth, where Cross is sitting by herself. Mark goes and sits with her, and finds out that Veronica has left to go back where she came from. Cross is angry at being selfless enough to let her go, and is hurting from it.

Mark tells her that they found Gaines. Cross immediately perks up, and they leave to head back to the hotel. When they get there, Jacob leaves to go home, and Cross and Mark continue their surveillance.

Jacob heads home – exhausted – to find Zara waiting for him. She’s made all her preparations, and only needs to make a phone call in order to set everything in motion. As they’re getting ready for bed, Zara realizes that her bag that she left here is open. She asks Jacob if he’s been into it, and she goes through it, finding that her Kane Corp security card is missing.

Jacob has a sudden sinking feeling, realizing he knows where it went. Zara also notices that the memory card is missing from her tablet, on it where all the files that she had given Mark. She asks Jacob what’s going on.

Jacob is evasive, saying that he knows where everything went, and he’ll take care of it, and she doesn’t need to worry about any of it. Zara – disappointed and hurt – picks up her go bag and tells him to call her when it’s taken care of or when he’s ready to talk, but he doesn’t let her leave, pulling her bag from her hands with his telekinesis.

They’re interrupted by noises outside, and Jacob looks out the window to see a wrecker getting ready to tow his car. He rushes out to intercept the guy, who hands him a clipboard showing that he’s repoing a car Jacob hasn’t been paying on. Jacob realizes someone switched his plates, and watches in anguish as the guy drives off.

Zara has come outside, and once again repeats for him to call when he’s done or ready to talk. She gets in her car and leaves, heading to one of her safe houses.

Jacob calls a YouGo and heads back to the hotel, where he goes to crash on the bed, dejected and angry and exhausted. Mark and Cross get him to tell them enough that something’s going on, and Cross says she’ll stay and watch the place so Mark can take Jacob home – after all, it’s not like she has anyplace to go or anyone waiting for her.

They leave, and Jacob starts getting more angry than anything. He directs Mark to Alphonse’s place, determined to get everything taken care of. They get there and after waiting a while in the private museum, are let into Alf’s office.

Alphonse offers them both some rather expensive whiskey, but Jacob immediately tears into Alf, asking what’s going on and why is Ginny here in town. Alphonse offers that Genevieve came to him with the score, and it’s too ridiculously lucrative to pass up, especially since Ginny didn’t want a cut, only wanted assistance as there was another item there she wanted.

After some arguing and back and forth, Alphonse offers Mark something in order to make sure he doesn’t interfere, and to see if he’ll help make sure Jacob doesn’t interfere. It’s the original spellbook with the curse used on Shelly. Mark perks up, and is after Alphonse gives Jacob the name of the place where Ginny is staying, rushes them out.

They head over to that hotel, where the front desk is already waiting for Jacob to show. They give him Ginny’s room number, and they head up.

There is a lot more arguing and threats and insults, but they eventually get the job details from her. The buyer wants a mystic archive that Madison has in her possession, in the form of a golem girl. Ginny wants a Silver Tongue Charm that Madison also has in there, something that will entrance anyone the user talks to, making them do whatever they are told.

Jacob and Mark agree to do the job if she hands over the card and doesn’t use it. She gives them a timeline to get it done, before she’ll use a copy of it in order to get what she wants.
They leave, arguing the entire way. Mark wants someone else to do the job, thinking it’s to personal for Jacob. He’s afraid to let Jacob out of his sight now, knowing that in his angry and exhausted state he might do something he’ll regret. They get to Mark’s house, and Jacob goes to walk off.

Mark hexes Jacob, putting him to sleep, and brings him in to the spare bedroom.

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03NOV15
Welcome to the Family

Tuesday

Jacob wakes up to a text from Mark, asking if he can talk to Zara before she goes through her Ripcord process, a plan she had in place to get her out of her current government job. She’s decided she wants to stay with Jacob, and so her current plan is to pull her Ripcord and get free of her current obligations.

Mark mentions in the texts that anytime today is good for him, as all he’s doing is moving. Jacob tries to get some more info on the moving bit, but Mark plays dumb, knowing that Jacob’s curiosity will get the better of him.

Jacob and Zara show up at Mark’s with donuts, and they notice Shelly’s Volkswagen Bug outside. Mark answers the door, and asks Zara if she can put together a meeting between him and Agent Moore. He knows it’s probably the only way he’ll be able to get the file on Nicholas Gaines decrypted, and with such fresh leads he’s in a rush to follow up – he’s feeling closer to Gaines than he ever has before.

Zara agrees to talk to Moore while she’s setting up preperations to pull her Ripcord, and leaves in Jacob’s vehicle. Shelly breezes by and grabs a donut, and as the guys follow her Jacob learns that she’s moving in with Mark and his family.

They spend the rest of the morning moving things from Shelly’s rundown, ratty apartment to Mark’s house, the one entertaining moment being when a bag of Shelly’s dancing stuff falling on Jacob, covering him in a cloud of glitter.

Mark and Jacob are downstairs relaxing after having finished when they hear some arrive outside. Mark is a little surprised when Jen walks in with both Antony and Ashley, having pulled them out of school early. She has them sit and brings Mark into the kitchen with her.

Jen puts a manila envelope on the table in front of them, and apologizes for the fact that with everything going on, everyone forgot about Mark’s birthday two days ago. She wishes him a happy birthday, then brings up the conversation they had last night about Shelly. She said she spent the day at the library, going over all the relevant laws and all, and she’s realized that while she can start the fight to make it legal for them to marry Shelly, it would take time. She’d either have to start a grass-roots campaign or run for office, and that’s just the beginning.

So she looked into alternate solutions for the problem of getting her in the family. She opens the envelope and pulls out papers for adoption. She explains that she’s already talked to Judge Stevens – a former client of Mark’s. Mark and Shelly had rescued his children from a rogue troll, and since he owes Mark and there are no real obstacles for an adult adoption, he’ll push through the paperwork immediately if they get it all signed.

Mark and Jen talk about it, Mark a little worried it will get in the way if things do change later and they can marry her, and also about the various legalities. Jen says they’ll cross that bridge when they get to it, and as far as the legalities, since they’re not blood related it’s not considered incest by Massachusetts law. After talking it over, he agrees with her and they decide to go through with it, as long as Shelly and the kids have no problems.

Jen calls Shelly down, and they hand her the paperwork and go over their decision. She’s shocked and unbelieving that something like this could happen, but also thrilled at the idea and willing to do it.

The three of them go into the living room, where awkwardness abounds between Jacob and the kids. They go over everything, Jen explaining things to everyone. There are a few questions – including a few from a stunned Jacob – but the kids are happy and excited and agree with doing it.

Jen and Mark call Ivy and Eddie Sr. over to be witnesses, and the celebration begins. Jacob pulls Mark aside and asks some questions about everything, worried about whether it’s safe considering Shelly’s current condition. Jacob is also a little worried that this might be the effect of the bonds on Mark from the succubus, but Mark tells him those bonds have been broken, though he will not explain how. He even offers for them to go talk to Murphy so that Jacob can have confirmation of the fact. Jacob ends up trusting in him, and congratulates him.

Zara calls Jacob. She set up the meet with Mark and Moore for 7 at Nighthawks. Something else happened, but it’s something she refuses to talk about over the phone. She asks him to meet her at his place.

With Mark and everyone else getting ready to go to the courthouse, slips out and calls a YouGo to get back home. There he finds Zara sitting out on the doorstep waiting for him. She tells him that when she went home to prep some of her assets, Madison showed up. She offered Zara her job back – with a raise – saying that Gideon took it upon himself to fire her and she didn’t agree with it. She hinted that she knew everything about Zara – both her government job and the fact that she was working with the group – but bygones could be bygones. Zara said she’d think it over, refusing to give an answer at the moment. She tells Jacob he aught to talk to Mark about it.

Zara leaves in her car to go finish her preperations, and Jacob realizes he didn’t tell Mark about the meet. He calls him and lets him know, both stating that they’d be up there around 6:30 or so.

Heading inside to shower and change, he is flattened when a voice calls out from the bedroom. Genevieve Theroux walks out, she’s his ex-partner and ex-lover. A grifter, and one that he parted ways with rather badly after she screwed him over for the last time.

She messes with him about the apartment and Zara and a few other things, leaving him pretty flustered. He gets out of her that a common friend – Alphonse Hudson – has her working a job here in the city. She hints that she could use some help, asks Jacob to dinner, and eventually leaves when Jacob insults her a few times.

Mark meets Jacob at Nighthawks. Jacob has been here a while, and is several drinks in. Mark gets him some coffee, and tries to get to the bottom of things. Jacob protests it’s ‘girl problems,’ and that he can handle things. He does mention about Zara’s news that Madison wants her to return to her job.

They talk and argue for a bit until Agent Moore shows up. She’s alone, and sits with them. Mark calls over Sheila, and Moore gets coffee and a bearclaw.

Mark asks for her help with decrypting the file, and she pressures him into not only telling her what it is, but gets some details on why. She eventually agrees, pulling out a laptop and getting ready to hack it. She lets slip a lot of details about things that she shouldn’t know regarding Mark and Jacob, and they realize she’s looked into a great deal of their lives and put together a lot of information.

It takes her less than ten minutes to hack into the file. Mark realizes that she’s not just a hacker, but a warlock, somehow mixing the two in order to do her job as she speaks a combination of daedric and modem. She has the address of Nicholas Gaines, in a penthouse that Madison put him up in. She has full security specs, information on the wards, codes to get in, everything. She passes it over to Mark along with a card with an email address on it. Mark and Jacob order her a steak sandwich, cheese fries and a milkshake to go, and leave. Moore tells them both congratulations, and adds to Jacob “I’ll make sure no one finds her.”

They head straight to Mark’s, so he can tell Jen something is up and pick up a few prepared items. On the way Mark calls Cross, but she doesn’t answer. He leaves her a message saying they found the guy who cursed Shelly, and he can use her help. Once there, they find the celebration is still going on, and Jen is disappointed when Mark says he’s headed out. Jacob talks him into letting him go do the surveillance, and Mark stays home.

Jacob drives over to the hotel and spends the rest of the night watching the building.

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02NOV15
Quiet Day After the Storm

Monday

Mark grabs Shelly, Ashley and Teresa and leaves Nighthawks. Knowing the kids won’t be going to school tomorrow, he texts Jen to see if JR was planning on staying the night with Antony, and finds out he’s already over at the house.

He decides to try to set in motion a plan to free him and Ashley from the bonds between them and the succubus no longer in control – at the moment – of Shelly.

Before the sun comes up, his plan succeeds and they are no longer in danger of being controlled by the succubus.

Mark and Shelly hang out some, leaving to go get some ice cream. Now that they’re in a public place, he explains the bonds with the succubus and the dangers to him and Ash, and his plan to break them last night, and that it was successful.

They head home for a bit, before leaving to go get Shelly’s car from Nighthawks and talking with Murphy, letting him know the room is no longer needed for Mark and Ashley, and Shelly says she’ll come back to work, but Murphy tells her to take some time if she needs it. Mark talks to Murphy about his room, and how and who built it. Murphy relents and says he’ll pass some information on it to Mark later.

Shelly picks up her car, and the two head back home.

While deciding on takeout, Mark and Jen talk about Shelly moving in. Jen agrees she wants it to happen, but also that she wants to marry her as well. They decide to have her move in first, and they’ll figure out the next part, but they agree on marriage. They sit everyone down, and tell the kids they want Shelly to come live with them. The kids are happy with it, and Shelly is now home.

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01NOV15
The End of the Beginning...

Sunday

Everyone starts to wake up at the Dreven’s. Mark and Jacob start talking about getting with the rest of the group, knowing that everyone needs to know what’s going on with Shelly, and that they’ll need help to fix the situation. Teresa walks in, and without slowing grabs Mark and drags him outside, where she promptly punches him in the chest.

She’s furious, and so is Mark at the moment. He sits her down and has her explain herself. After hearing last night from Ashley what happened yesterday, she is furious that she’s the only one of the group that isn’t getting any training or knowledge of what’s what. As she puts it, “What would’ve happened if Ash and I had been here by ourselves when Shelly showed up?” She is determined to learn anything and everything she can from whoever will teach her. Mark tells her that she needs to talk to her father first, and she agrees, but with the proclamation that she will not let it stop her if he says no. She has a rare moment of vulnerability, explaining that she’s so upset because of everyone, Ashley at least was supposed to be her safe place, the one person that didn’t have to deal with the life-threatening world her father had to, or that wouldn’t leave her like her mother. She wants to be able to help and protect her friend.

They head back inside to finish breakfast. Other than some confusion from the boys over the hickie on Ashley’s neck – which Teresa defuses by threatening the boys not to say anything about it through her death glares – breakfast goes quickly. Mark texts Harry and tells him to have everyone at Nighthawks for a powwow. With everything going on, no one remembers that today is Mark’s birthday, not even him.

Mark, Ashley and Jacob head to Nighthawks. They find Harry, Xander, Pale, Dylan, and Loomis waiting for them. Mark and Jacob explain the events of the night before. Loomis starts helping wait tables, even though Murphy tells him that he does not work there. He is also forbidden to talk in front of Teresa due to his talking about nipple clamps, etc.

Raizo Midori, who has come to New Avalon with the Three Destinies in their service, is driven to Nighthawks by Fong. Midori is part of a ninja clan that has pledged service to the Destinies, and work to protect them and do their bidding. They are aware of a Lost Destiny here in the city, and have tasked Midori with finding and aiding her. Tony Lao suggests that he work with the group, as they know the area and he believes they are already in the service of the Lost Destiny.

Fong drops Midori off, who introduces himself to the group. He goes over his clan, why he is here and what he brings to the table. The group splits up. Mark, Ashley and Midori are going to find Cross and Veronica. Harry, Loomis, Jacob, Xander, Pale and Dylan are headed to Madison’s to try and crime-scene investigate.

Mark gets in the area of Cross’s, but suddenly realizes that he cannot remember where she lives, and neither can anyone else in the car. Mark even calls Harry and the others, but none of them can remember her address either. Mark tries a surveillance spell to get a bird’s eye view of the area, but can see a large section of the city in the area is blurry and out of focus and unviewable. They decide to meet the others at Madison’s.

Madison’s still has a police presence. Zara is waiting for them, Gideon is waiting to talk to Harry (also wants to talk to Mark). Zara brings Harry and Dylan up to see Gideon while the rest start to look around and loiter. Dylan is wearing a CSI jacket that Harry had gotten him. Gideon reads Harry the riot act, warning him that he’s got people looking for Shelly. Harry maintains that Shelly is innocent, and Gideon basically states that they’d better find proof of that – good and real proof – before his people find her. He also states that the group is not on the friendly list, that they don’t trust them at all since it was Shelly.

The other group shows up about the same time as Harry and Dylan get back downstairs from Gideon’s office. They start to move around and investigate the scene. Loomis, Mark and Ashley start working a ritual to reach out to any ghosts or spirits that are in the house to question them. Harry helps Dylan photograph the scene, using both normal and spirit photography. Midori uses his Mystic Warrior powers to try and attune himself to the psychic imprint of the scene, hoping to find clues that way. Jacob and Zara start going through the place, attempting to see if it was perhaps a distraction, and if anything is missing or stolen. Xander and Pale are loitering and providing basic security to the group.

Midori notices family pictures around the house, and realizes that the Lost Destiny lives here. He recognizes her from the mental images that the Three Destinies had provided him with. He looks around, easily following the fight in his mind’s eye. He can tell that it was a succubus that was fighting here, and he can feel where someone else teleported the succubus into the house, and then where it was teleported out as well. There is also something else here in the mansion that feels like a Destiny. It feels as though part of her is still here, perhaps a missing part that is why she is a Lost Destiny, unsure of herself and with no memories.

Loomis walks into the foyer with his doctor’s bag of goodies. He pulls out a Yoo-hoo, an old fashioned clothespin which he places on his nose, and then a dogeared, ancient looking book. He pours the Yoo-hoo out, creating a circle around himself. He begins to read – in a nasally voice – from a marked passage: “’About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was a part of him-and I didn’t know how potent that part might be-that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.’ The Gospel according to Stephenie Meyer.” He turns to Mark and Ashley. “See, the thing about ghosts is, they don’t feel anything, they have no emotions anymore. So you have to hit them with something terribly bad, so they can feel something and feel attracted to what makes them feel horrible. So what could be worse than reading them Twilight?”

Loomis is attacked by the massive ritual wards that have been placed upon the mansion, fighting against his ritual. He takes the feedback from the counterattack, protecting Mark and Ashley from it. Knowing that the rituals would prevent the normal hauntings, Loomis starts to twist his spell, looking instead for the spirits of the newly fallen. They fight the ritual wards, first Loomis then Mark taking the feedback, both protecting Ashley – though she ends up pouring a lot of power into the spell. Finally they break the ritual wards, causing them to fall. The restless spirits of the newly dead swarm around them, and Loomis questions them. They find out that most – if not all – of the security that died were recent hires or recent moves from other departments and jobs. All were either sick, dying, heavily in debt, etc. All of them were given a rather large life insurance policy in the contract to work security that Halloween night. The ghosts also saw ‘something’ reach through the ether and pull the succubus – no one is thinking of it as Shelly – out of the house, teleporting it somewhere else.

Jacob and Zara don’t find anything stolen or missing. Everything looks like a simple assault by someone teleporting the succubus in and then out again, and the only ones she followed were Cross and Veronica. Jacob does notice that Sister – the Black Coat bodyguard – is back at the mansion and guarding Madison’s room. Jacob sneaks away from his guard and tries to parkour his way up to Madison’s balcony, only to be caught easily – scary for him as that usually doesn’t happen – by Sister. He makes some excuses, and heads back downstairs to Zara quickly.

Harry and Dylan take plenty of photographs, and manage to go around to find out what is on the other side of the thich security door that stopped the succubus. It leads to a garage, and it seems a car is missing. They check some security footage, and it does appear as though someone – possibly Fetch – drove Cross and Veronica out and away from the mansion.

The group heads back to Nighthawks to discuss everything they found, unwilling to talk around the mansion with all the ears. In fact, they stop to check their cars for bugs – all except Zara, who has already disabled all of the ones on hers. They find a multitude of them, both listener and tracker bugs.

At Nighthawks, they ask Murphy again if Shelly will be safe here. He promises it’s neutral territory, and she is. He warns Murphy that people are going to come looking for her. Harry tries to talk to her for a bit, but she’s not very talkative.

They sit and start going over things. Skanks shows up, having seen the private ABP go out on Shelly across the S.O.R.T. network. He sticks around to see if he can help at all.

Teresa shows up as well. Jacob hears Ashley call her ‘Peaches’ and starts to make fun of her nickname. She has a private conversation with her father, echoing the one with Mark she had. She wants training, from anyone and everyone who will offer any. Her father agrees with her, and promises to bring her to the shooting range soon and to pick out something for her birthday. (Teresa is now a Sidekick)

Dylan plans to get with Harry after his talk to go and find the ‘stolen’ car from Madison’s. Zara has been looking into it, and sees that not only was it not reported missing from the mansion, but it’s back there now.

Xander, Pale and Zara head to Queen Hospital to check on the status of Madison. There, they run into Moreau, dressed as a doctor. Xander approaches him, and he remarks that he’s ‘here to check up on someone’ and that ‘maybe your boss isn’t what you think, eh?’ He heads outside, and Xander goes back to find that Zara says that Madison’s private physicians showed up and transferred her out. Xander calls and relays all of this to Harry.

Before the call, they are discussing different ways of finding Cross’s address again. Harry goes looks at his GPS, and he finds a blank entry that he thinks should be it. Midori uses his Mystic Warrior abilities, and the address appears for him. When he tries to tell it to the others, they don’t hear it, they only hear Charlie Brown parent noises. It’s determined that him, Dylan and Jacob will go and try to check up on Cross and Veronica to make sure that they are OK.

Harry hangs up with Xander, and decides to head to the hospital to try and see if he can get any information or surveillance video. Skanks leaves too, calling Ivy to see if she can get any info from the hospital while he heads home.

Mark and Loomis head down to the basement to question Shelly, leaving Ashley and Teresa upstairs under the watchful eye of Sheila. Shelly is still under the blanket, her back to the door. They get close to the Devil’s Trap, and Shelly blurs she moves so quickly, standing as close as she can to it. She’s full succubus, the wards gone from her, transformed to a level she’s never been before. She taunts Loomis and Mark. Loomis gets as close to the Devil Trap as he can, holding pearl nipple clamps in his hands. He starts to hold them out, and then says, “Oh wait, these are for me.” He unbuttons his shirt and puts them on, then starts singing “You’ve lost that loving feeling” while beginning to cast his ritual.

The succubus starts to react. Angrily, she reaches out to the bonds that she has between Mark. He manages to fight it off at the last second, but it is a near thing. Loomis continues casting his spell, with the succubus trying it’s best to fight against it. Suddenly Ashley walks in, Teresa trying to pull her back. She tosses a salt shaker at the Trap, and it breaks, the salt breaking the lines of the trap. The succubus swings at Mark, but he manages to roll with it and doesn’t get hurt to badly. The succubus tells Loomis she’ll be seeing him, and stalks past the two girls. Teresa manages to hold Ashley back from following her, barely. Mark picks her up and uses the large industrial sink and some cold water to snap her out of it.

They head upstairs, and Mark calls and asks Jen to stop by with all of his notes on succubi, and all of the files that Zara brought him. Loomis leaves, some kind of idea going on in his head. In going through his old notes after she drops them off, he finds where a succubus can create a bond with someone by feeding off them deeply, by draining a sliver of their soul into itself. It causes an infection that will fester for a few days, slowly getting stronger. Eventually the person fed on in such a way will start dreaming of the succubus, to the point where exhaustion overtakes them. Soon after it will take them over, and they will become a thrall of the succubus. It was that bond that the succubus called on in order to momentarily take over Mark and Ashley both. He finds a few ways to hopefully break the bond, but none he’s particularly happy with.

Midori, Dylan and Jacob find Cross’s building. Unfortunately they don’t know where in the tower she lives, but Midori can vaguely feel the Destiny, so they use that to triangulate their location. He has to keep fighting to keep Dylan and Jacob on task, as they constantly have their minds wander off. Jacob keeps wanting to go off and try the Tiki Bar on the roof of the place. Midori realizes they’re on the 13th floor, which the elevator refuses to go to. They go to 12 and walk up.

They find the floor abandoned, under renovations that obviously were never finished and forgotten about. They follow extension cords and rough feelings to one end of the building, when suddenly the lights go out and they are attacked!

Attacked by a naked Cross armed with her goblin daggers. She dances through the center of them, but they all manage – somehow – to avoid the deadly blades. Dylan calls out to her, getting her to recognize it’s him and asking her to stop. She does recognize them, but still a little panicky, goes to move back to where she came from. Dylan gets in the way and catches one of her blades, not a deep cut, but an unpleasant one all the same. He uses the contact to grab her, and again pleads for her to calm down and talk.

Which does the trick. She pulls away and apologizes for attacking, but considering Shelly was the last one to attack them, she’s taking no chances. Especially with the unknown man – Midori – with them. They discuss what and who he is, and that he is here to defend Destinies – Stars – and thus protect Veronica. They tell her what happened to Shelly, and that they’re working to figure things out, and that they are safe for the moment since Shelly is contained.

Cross walks them back to her room. She wants to stop Roni before she gets too far away, having decided to somewhat trust them. Once inside she drops her knives, and grabs a long shirt to slip into before disappearing into a hole in the wall. The guys take some time to look around the rather barren room, not having too long to wait before Cross reappears. Roni is not with her, she trusts them only so far, afterall. Midori heals Dylan with his healing spirit bound to him, which Dylan and Jacob are both jealous of.

Dylan makes sure that the two of them are ok, and once again goes over everything that’s been happening. Seeing how Midori was able to get through the spell she had bought so easily, she makes plans with Dylan to move Veronica out of here. She plans for them to go to Legal Tender, and Dylan agrees to go set up enough payment for a week or so. He also plans on getting a room there next to theirs, just in case he needs a safehouse as well. With the plan in place, Cross agrees to text when they get there safely. (Lasting Impression) Midori is impressed with his impression of Cross, of her focus and dedication to keeping Veronica safe, and feels a kindred spirit there. They leave, once again apologizing for coming in at an… awkward time.

Harry arrives at the hospital, and immediately notices Moreau sitting out in a car surveiling the place, keeping an eye on the door and Xander’s car. He heads inside and meets up with Xander, Pale and Zara. They go over what they found with him, and he plans to once again go get the surveillance footage to help them. Before he can, he’s paged over the intercom to a courtesy phone. Calling the number, he hears Ivy on the other line asking them to come up to a lounge on the third floor. Once there she hands over copies of the transfer papers, the best she could get her hands on. Zara confirms that the signatures look legit, and Harry goes gets the surveillance footage to get as best a view of them leaving as he can.

On the way out, Harry makes a decision. He had already given back Moreau his MP7 smg that he had stolen from him the night of Veronica’s rescue, now he decides to make a slightly larger peace gesture. He heads out to his car and grabs the duffle with Moreau’s grenade launcher and grenades, walks them over to Moreau and hands them over. He also asks that Moreau pass along some thanks to Rasmussin for helping the kids get out of the dance. Moreau is surprised at the gesture, and mentions “I guess I owe Rasmussin some money now.”

They all get back together at Nighthawks. Mark tells them that Shelly escaped, Dylan quickly tries calling Cross to warn her, but she doesn’t answer. He also tells everyone about the bond that the succubus has with him and Ashley, and for them to keep an eye on the two of them if they start doing anything weird, and sets up to use the saferoom downstairs if that happens with Murphy. Dylan gets a text through to Cross saying that Shelly is out there, and not to go anywhere near Mark or Ashley. She agrees, and says they’re at Legal Tender safe.

Mark finds Nicholas Gaines’s name in Madison’s list of personnel files that Zara gave him, and anger overtakes him. It has a recent timestamp, showing it was modified recently. He believes that she’s working with Nicholas, and had gotten the succubus’s name from him, thereby allowing her to summon it. He also – reluctantly – states that she helped him 16 years ago to ward Shelly, so that the succubus couldn’t control her. Having both the knowledge of the wards and the knowledge of the name – if she truly had it – would give her complete control over Shelly.

Harry has a brainwave (Idea!) to use traffic cameras to track down where Madison’s medical convoy went after it left the hospital. He’s going to grab Xander, Pale and Zara and get their help to do it. While talking things out, Midori mentions having felt something at Madison’s that felt like a piece of Veronica. Mark suddenly remembers (Fork: Idea!) when he looked upon the glass that Madison had him recover that whatever it was knocked him out, and that there was bright light and the feeling of falling. They believe that’s the lost piece of her, and that it might be stored in Madison’s room, where the Black Coat was guarding.

Zara gets with Jacob before leaving with Harry to give him some tips on getting past Madison’s security. Mark wants him to sneak into the house and get the full file on Nicholas Gaines. She gives him a Company USB drive, and wishes him luck.

Mark, Dylan and Midori head to Chinatown, to ask the Destinies for help in breaking the bonds between them and the succubus. The Destinies agree to an audience, but refuse to help. They state that if Mark and Ashley are to be guardians of Veronica, they must prove their worth. Midori tries every argument, but they refuse – for now – to help.

Harry and Zara get to the police station that has connections to the proper traffic cams. He has Xander and Pale in a car traversing the path that the convoy took. He figures between his tactical thinking, Zara’s knowledge of Madison’s properties, and Xander and Pale’s tracking instincts that they should be able to figure out the path that the convoy took before someone notices them appropriating the camera feed. It takes a little time but they do exactly that, at one point even realizing that off camera a decoy convoy also started moving down a false path. They find the building, a small biotech research office that Madison owns, and Xander notices both the SUV’s and a ton of concealed and undercover guards watching the place. He loiters for a while before heading back.

At Madison’s, Jacob sneaks into the compound. He easily bypasses all the security and gets up to Madison’s office. He breaks into the desk to get the spare security key Zara told him would be there, and uses it to bypass and unlock the machine. With his limited computer skills and the Company USB that Zara loaned him, he manages to pull off the encrypted file of Nicholas Gaines. He attempts to grab a few other files, but hears movement outside and shuts it down and bolts before he can be detected.

He goes to sneak onto Madison’s balcony again, and is again intercepted by the Black Coat, although he manages to hide before she sees him. He spends time feinting and maneauvering, before finally using his telekinesis to break in a window downstairs as a distraction. He quickly hurries into the bedroom, and his thieving skills let him find the hidden wall safe quickly. But with no time to open it quietly, he instead uses his telekinesis to rip it out of the wall. It slams into the door, barricading it from opening. He peels it open, and finds inside the wooden box he’s now stolen for a third time. A sword cuts through the door, and without looking back he runs and jumps off the balcony. He uses his TK to cushion his fall, and leaves as quickly as he can.

Everyone gets back to Nighthawks again. Jacob gives Mark the USB drive with the file, and Zara suggests a meeting with Agent Moore. She thinks that Mark might be able to talk her into hacking the nearly unhackable encryption, even though it will bring forward the ties between Zara and the group to Agent Moore. She feels it’s an acceptable risk, as Moore is the most sympathetic of the group of agents.

Madison calls Zara. She’s circling the wagons, having had the report of her house being broken into and the safe being opened. Zara tells everyone, and asks Jacob what he did. He pulls the box with the glass out, and gives a brief rundown of his adventure. Harry puts it best, “So you stole the box the same way you did last time, using your powers to rip open the safe. No, no way she could mistake it for someone else, now could she?” The group prepares to split up and go into hiding from Madison’s warpath.

Mark grabs Ashley and leaves. They call home and tell Jen to start packing. Harry and Teresa leave and follow Mark, because Harry is afraid he’s not taking everything seriously enough, but he just isn’t aware of Mark’s plans. Xander and Pale leave to go to the Elysium. Dylan and Midori head to Legal Tender, to drop off the glass piece and to reach a safe ground.

Mark gets home, gets things packed. With his whole family, they start to head over to the Nelson’s, to get them out as well.

Dylan and Midori get to Legal Tender, and Cross lets them into their room. Midori hands over the box to Cross, who opens it. The shard glows and Veronica approaches, slowly reaching out for it. As soon as she touches it, the room is filled with intense light, leaving Dylan and Midori feeling as though they were floating in weightless serenity.

When the light is gone, they find themselves alone in the room. Dylan realizes that his missing leg is back. There is a flash, and Veronica reappears. She says, “You don’t need to be worried about Madison anymore.” There is another flash, and she is gone.

Dylan calls Harry to tell him. He immediately calls Xander to pass by the building that Madison was taken to. He calls everyone else to meet back at Nighthawks to discuss what happened. Mark and Ashley head there, but let the rest of the family and the Nelson’s keep heading out for now.

Back at Nighthawks, they hear back from Xander. The building had been empty. He and Pale broke in and found a bunch of weird science and medical crap, but nothing else. They headed back to Madison’s, only to see the Black Coats leaving the mansion. The bodyguards cut them off, and Sister gets out and walks over. She hands Xander a business card, and says if the group is looking for work, to give it a call. It simply says HOUSE OF FISTS and has a phone number. He questions them about why they are leaving, and they mention that ‘Madison doesn’t need them anymore, and her hands are tied as far as it comes to ya’ll." Xander relays this to Harry.

Dylan explains what happened with Roni, and they realize now that she has her full powers, she must have protected them from Madison. Mark calls Jen and tells her that it’s safe for her and the Nelson’s to head home.

Shelly walks in the door. The succubus is contained, and she’s hesitant as to the reaction. Mark walks up and gives her a hug, happy to see her back to herself – even if it is just for now.

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31OCT15
Halloween

Saturday

Jacob wakes up alone in Zara’s bed. He is nursing one hell of a headache, but is otherwise OK. He looks around and see’s Zara sitting at the table, papers and research material spread everywhere. She’s been going through both her files and Madison’s, trying to find anything that will help. She’s got lists of artifacts, books, ritual locations, encrypted files on various people in the city, etc. She wants to bring it to Mark to have him go over it, and also hoping it can server as a peace offering, as she knows he doesn’t trust her. Jacob agrees, and they plan to do that.

At Mark’s, he wakes up to find Jen getting ready to make breakfast for the gang. He talks with her about a decision he made the night before, that he wants to start training Ashley since she was using her magic at the dance. He also thinks that Antony could use something to help him with his confidence along with giving him an edge to keep him safe, namely that Jen might want to start teaching him martial arts. He also mentions that they could ask Cross for some help with that as well, both for added getting him out of his comfort zone. Jen agrees with him with him on all of it. (Ashley becomes a Sidekick)

With breakfast cooked, the kids wake up and join them. A knock at the door interrupts, them, and Mark answers it to find Jacob and Zara. He refuses to let them in, until Jen walks up and invites them in. In the kitchen, Teresa makes fun of Jacob, calling him Ben. Jacob snatches some bacon on the way out to the home office Mark brings them to. Door closed, they start to discuss all the files Zara brought him.

Ashley and Teresa bring Jacob and Zara plates and coffee before leaving. Jen joins them, and later Cross also joins them. While discussing the files, Veronica texts Cross, asking her to come over for Halloween – invited by Madison. Everyone is kind of shocked over that, and how Madison reacted last night. Cross leaves to go get ready and head over there.

One of the main things they discuss is the materials receipts that make it look like Madison had a major ritual circle created somewhere. Where and what for is unknown, but it’s something they want to find.

Jacob and Zara leave, with the plan that later tonight during the Halloween festivities they’ll sneak into some of Madison’s files on the Church and Cult. They head to Jacob’s to get his car, and spend some time alone ‘resting’ before they have to leave.

JR and Teresa leave to go get ready for tonight, where they’ll be back at Mark and Jen’s to give out candy and have fun. Jen takes Antony to go get some equipment and talk to him about training. Mark talks to Ashley about training her, and the two leave to go out to the park to do exactly that.

Jacob and Zara wake up and head over to Madison’s. She gives him a brief tour while they wait for everyone to be occupied. They see Cross and Veronica and wave to them. Eventually, they sneak their way into one of Madison’s office, and Zara starts going through files. They’re not there long before they hear screaming, then gunshots and an alarm starts blaring. Zara pulls a pistol from somewhere, and Jacob goes to open the door, only to have one of Madison’s guards go flying through it.

Looking out into the hallway, he sees Shelly. She’s been shot, and looks to be in full demon mode. She stalks up the hallway, not even noticing him. Jacob and Zara follow her. Turning down a hallway, they see her trying to break her way through the door at the end of the hallway. Madison is laying on the hall floor, broken and bloody. Zara checks her and she’s still alive, but hurt.

Jacob moves closer to Shelly, and gets her attention. He tries to find out what’s going on, only to be hit with a heavy stone table that Shelly uses as a improvised club and knocked unconscious.

Mark and Ashley get home, only to see the front door is ajar. Mark pulls a pistol and readies his magic, and tells Ash to stay close behind him. At the door he notices a bloody hand-print on the jamb, about Cross high he thinks. They follow the trail of blood into the living room, and find a mangled and dying Shelly.

Mark knows she needs to feed in order to heal, and calls Jacob hoping he’s close by, knowing that since he has powers she’ll be able to feed on him without hurting him. He gets no answer, and curses that Jacob is dead to him. Ashley is in tears, asking what happened. Mark, seeing no other option left in the time he has, explains everything to Ashley. While she knew some of the specifics about her Aunt Shelly she didn’t know all of it, and Mark explains that if they let her feed on them both, she should heal and survive. Ashley volunteers, and Mark lets Shelly feed on her first so he can be sure he can stop her before she does any harm. After feeding on Ashley, Mark lets Shelly feed on him, taking the rest of what she needed to heal and to take enough edge off her hunger to allow her to regain control of herself. In the process, Mark passes out same as Ashley did.

When he comes to, Jen is taking care of both of them. She tells Mark that she got home before Shelly left, that Shelly explained a little of what happened. She was summoned by someone, someone who knew her succubus’s name and could control it. She remembered chasing Veronica and Cross, and being hurt badly, then being here and feeding on the two of them. Mark sends a dazed and out-of-it Ashley up to go shower before the other kids show up.

Jacob wakes up in an ambulance. Zara is riding in the back with him. At the hospital, he checks out mostly OK, though his arm is in a sling, his shoulder sprained and bruised badly. Madison is stable, but hurt pretty well. Zara is going back to the mansion to try and get the files. She confirms that the guards say it appeared like Shelly was after Veronica and Cross. He calls Mark back, noticing the missed call, and they exchange stories. As soon as Mark hears that it happened at Madison’s and that she was hurt, he hangs up. Jacob grabs an Yougo to get a ride over to his place.

The kids show up, and Mark goes takes a shower of his own, trying to clear his own head. Jen goes to tell Ivy what happened to Shelly. She cleaned up enough of the blood and all to hide things, but the kids know something happened, especially once a still dazed Ashley comes down.

Jacob gets over to Mark’s, and they compare notes in more detail. During this, Murphy calls Jen. Shelly is with him, and he has her contained in a circle or something so she can’t do anything.

Mark and Jacob get ready to go to Murphy’s in order to question Shelly. An unsteady Ashley asks if she should go to, but Mark tells her to stay home. They drive out to Murphy’s, finding Sheila taking Shelly’s place at work. Murphy walks them downstairs to the basement, where Shelly is in a locked room covered in sigils and devil’s traps.

She’s unhappy they are there, and doesn’t provide them which much new information. Everything was like a dream to her, the was completely out of control of her body, a semi-conscious passenger while the succubus took over. She argues with Mark, angry that she hurt and killed people, and that she fed on him and Ashley. She makes remarks as to the fact she wished that Mark would have let her die instead of feeding her, or that they should talk about her being put down. He argues that he has a lead on Nicholas Gaines. Even this points that he might be around, for so far in all their investigation they haven’t been able to find anyone who had her demon’s name, and all signs point that Gaines would, which is why Mark has been looking for him for all this time. Mark considers opening himself up to the demon, trying to pull the memories from it, but is afraid it could gain access to his memories of how the wards are placed on Shelly, and find some way of undoing them.

Mark and Jacob leave and head back to Mark’s. Zara texts Jacob to let him know she’s OK, she has some more files, and is leaving the mansion. On the way back, Jacob starts questioning Mark more about the new world he’s finding himself in, about Shelly, Mark’s past, etc. In his words, he finds a lot of this ‘cool.’

At Mark’s house, the kids are outside handing out candy. They head inside, talk with Jen, and discuss their options. In talking, they wonder why someone would use Shelly like this, and how she managed to get back to his house. She had very little memory of it, but it had to be on purpose, she couldn’t teleport, and all signs point to that being how she got here. Mark gets the idea to try and modify a tracking spell not to find Shelly, but perhaps to backtrack her arrival here from where she came. He gathers some materials, and they head outside to where Shelly likely appeared, based on her blood trail. Mark calls Ashley over to pay attention, but because they are both still drained from Shelly, he ends up walking Jacob through the process.

Mark’s belief is that Jacob is an untrained wizard, not just a telekinetic. His powers have stagnated due to his early belief as a kid that he could move things with his mind, and that he never branched out from that. Mark walks him through drawing the circle and casting the spell, and it’s almost successful. A counter-curse races back up the spell, destroying the material components, but doing no one else any damage as the spell was so fragile to begin with. They have a rough idea where she might have been teleported from, but it’s a rather large area, and not a sure thing.

Everyone heads inside, and the kids head to sleep while Mark, Jen and Jacob have a few stiff drinks. They invite Jacob to stay the night. The kids come in to tell them goodnight, and eventually everyone heads off to bed.

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30OCT15
Ballroom Blitz

Friday

The night of the dance.

Mark went out earlier and placed the wards, as planned. Most everyone meets up at his place. Cross shows up, unsuccessful in her attempt to find and kill Charlie Gardner. The kids and her all go to change into their costumes. Jacob shows up, dressed as Ben Franklin, Teresa makes fun of him. Zara is with him, dressed in a period costume. Mark gives her Veronica’s new – warded – Batgirl costume to go with Cross’s Wonder Woman. She leaves to get to the mansion in time to ride with Veronica to the dance, and help her change along the way. Jacob and Dylan grab the weapons and equipment, and Jacob again gets his orders that he is to keep the kids safe at all times. They leave with Eddie and Harry to arrive early and prep the gym.

Once there they start setting up, and Harry and Eddie walk perimeter to check everything out. He finds a hallway that raises suspicion. The door is unlocked instead of locked, it has been unblocked of items, and the overhead light both inside and out are burned out. He steps through, checking everything carefully, and finds two garbage cans outside the door, where all the other doors only have one.

Checking one of the cans, he finds it empty save for a symbol made of trash and filth at the bottom. He calls Mark, who suggests salting and burning it. Mark, realizing that it didn’t set off his wards, knows it must have been placed before this morning when he went out to set them. Harry follows Mark’s instructions, and the ward – and garbage can – explode, peppering Harry with shrapnel. There is more discussion about just cancelling the event, but Cross decides no, it’s better to continue. No one overrides her goblin instincts, and kids start showing up.

Mark and his kids show up, and Veronica and Bianca are not long behind them. The kids start enjoying their dance, while the adults wait for their coming enemies.

A while into the party, Mark’s wards trip. On the lookout now, the group sees Doom and Moreau walk in the front door, loitering there. Mark can feel Rasmussin and his Hounds around the rear of the building. They prepare to evacuate the kids, when they notice that they no longer have eyes on Cross and Veronica, or Bianca and Fetch. They reach Cross on comms, and her and Roni show back up so that she can get her bag.

Moreau approaches Harry during this time, and tells him that they’re not here for the group, or for Veronica, before walking back to loiter at the front door with a grumpy looking Doom. Harry realizes that they’re here for the same reason, to fight off the Cultists from getting Veronica. Things settle for a while, and Cross and Veronica disappear again.

Things don’t stay quiet forever. Harry moves to Moreau, and begins to engage him in conversation when it happens. A sudden storm moves in, and with it Mark’s wards go crazy. The Cult is here.

They try to get the call out, but comms are down, as are phones. Lights go out, and the evacuation plan begins. Eddie, Ivy, Jen and Shelly work to get all the students out safely and to the school proper. Jacob and Zara grab Antony, Ashley, JR and Teresa and try to get them outside to one of the several escape routes that Harry set up before hand. JR pulls out a pocket pistol, and Ashley starts spellweaving magic to assist their escape. Mark feels Rasmussin also helping them escape, using his Hounds to run interference.

Dylan, who spent all of his reward money from Madison on a spectral camera lens, readies his weapons and starts taking pictures. The fight outside eventually spills in, and the group sees that another side is here: Agents Stonewall and Gunn.

The Cult sends waves of outsiders, summons, corpse engines and more against them. The DJ turns out to be a Cult plant, pulling out an SMG and opening up on the group. A Cult wizard heads the attack.

The students are evacuated succesfully. Jacob and Zara get the kids out to a rear entrance, but outside a hurricane is blowing and nasty summons are lurking. Jacob all but strokes out by telekinetically pulling Jen’s SUV over to the door, giving them an escape route and taking out a few monsters at the same time. Zara gets him and the kids in safely, and JR drives them out.

A sudden mystic wave rushes through the area, and Mark feels the ritual pop. The storm outside starts to die down, and they realize comms are now up. The fight is going well, with the DJ and the wizard taken care of along with most of the Cult minions. Agent Gunn has been ravaged, skin hanging from metal and bone. He pulls the leather glove off his left hand, and a beam of energy shoots from his palm, destroying some of the summoned outsiders.

The fight ends, and Doom and Moreau slink off into the night, Rasmussin having already left. Agent Stonewall lets them go, a temporary truce called. Before they go, Harry gives Moreau back his MP7 smg that Harry had stolen the night of Veronica’s rescue.

The group meets back up at Mark’s office. Shelly left to go to Legal Tender to check on Cross and Veronica, who they cannot get in touch with. She calls to let them know that they are not there. Jen takes the kids back to their house for a sleepover, her SUV beat up and having seen better days. While they’re going over ideas and plans, there is a knock on the door. Cross and Veronica are there, in her mud armor. Mark gets them towels to wrap up in, and gets them inside, where they notice Veronica is a little out of it.

They decide to head to the mansion, so they can get Veronica home, and Cross wants to have a come-to-Jesus talk with Madison. They do exactly that, and somehow the talk between Cross and Madison – where Cross calls out how lucky it was she was there, since she was the one that got Roni out and kept her safe. Surprisingly enough, Madison agrees.

Everyone excepet Jacob and Zara leave, with Mark bringing Cross to go pick up her bag. Along the way she mentions that while she and Roni were making out, something happened. Mark puts that together with the wave that broke the storm and the ritual. Cross says that it almost seemed like some of Roni’s memories had come back, that she said “I remember falling.” Not wanting to be alone, Cross asks if she can stay at Mark’s tonight, and he agrees. He stops along the way to buy her some appropriate things to wear around the kids, and once home points her to the shower.

The kids have all brought down sleeping bags in the living room, and he checks on them before heading up to check on his wife. He decides he’s sleeping downstairs with the kids, to make sure everyone behaves. Shelly shows up to check on everyone, causing him to later realize that Teresa is much more observant than he’d thought, forcing them to have a talk later.

Mark also has a talk with JR, wanting to know about the guy his daughter was dancing with. JR mentions that Donny Barnes seems an alright guy, a little nerdy but doesn’t seem to be trouble. He also says it was his dad that gave him the pistol in case it was needed. Also that while he does have feelings for Ashley, they had discussed it and realized it would probably be better to ignore them since they had grown up almost like brother and sister. Mark all but gives him his blessing in the matter, knowing that he’d be better than most of the kids at school for her.

Cross has a drink with Mark, then they go out into the living room with the kids. Mark teases the kids a lot about the dance, who was dancing with whom, etc. At one point May Weathers – a bully and the daughter of Denise Weathers, a witch Mark knows – is brought up. She’s been bullying Ashley some, and had some nasty remarks to say about Cross and Veronica being together.

Eventually, everyone falls asleep.

At Madison’s, Zara and Jacob retire to her apartment/office, where he eventually passes out from the strain of the night and how he used his powers.

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29OCT15
Prepping for the Dance

Thursday

The day before the Halloween dance.

The ritual is to a point where the city itself can feel it. Disappearances have been on the rise, and it’s obvious to everyone now that the ritual is planned to coincide with either the dance itself or Halloween night. The ritual now feels similar to the same one the Cult used the night of Veronica’s kidnapping, so they are suspect number one.

Both Harry and Mark have avoided calls from Madison on hearing in the voicemail that she knows that Cross and her daughter are going out, and plan on going to the dance together.

Dylan noticed the night before at the debate he was working for Madison that the Black Coat bodyguards that had been shadowing her and Veronica were no where to be seen. With less security at the mansion, they decide to not have Cross call off the date, as at least they know it’s coming and can prepare for it at the dance.

With the knowledge now that it’s the Cult against them, Cross leaves to try and track down Charlie Gardner and kill him, hoping it will interfere with their plans. Before that, they come up with some defensive plans and tactics.

Dylan will be bringing in some small arms hidden in with his equipment cases. He’ll also have Cross’s bag, with her pot of mud armor inside. Mark will swing by in the morning in order to put up some defensive and warning wards in place around the gym the dance will be held in.

Mark charges Jacob with the protection of his children and their friends. If anything happens, Jacob is to get them out and safe – or else. Cross is taking the same position with Veronica. If anything happens, she’ll get Veronica out and get her to Legal Tender, one of the safest places they can think of for the short term.

Mark and Jen Dreven are both attending as chaperones. Zara was pressed into service as chaperone for Veronica by Madison. Also going with them is Veronica’s older sister Bianca, and their bodyguard Fetch Wilson. Harry and Edmund “Skanks” Nelson Sr. are both going as off-duty police security, and Mark brings his best friend up-to-date on what they’re expecting. They get his wife Ivy to come along in case they need medical support, and also bring in Ivy’s sister and their friend, Shelly. As a succubus she has the strength and power to be an ace in the hole, and since she was possessed when she was young she fits in with the rest of the crowd easily.

Mark knows that Veronica wasn’t allowed a costume, only a Halloween themed dress, and comes up with an idea. He calls Ashley and has her and Teresa get Veronica’s sizes so that they can get her a costume with a mask, one that he can ward to help protect her. Shelly goes picks up the costume since she has to get one for herself as well.

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