2014.11.23:The Empty House 3
|The Empty House 3|
|The future of education. Maybe.|
|IC Date||November 23, 2014|
|Players||Penny, Brandon, Jennifer, Velok, Molly, Branton|
Somewhat following in the footsteps of the Open House people herself, Penny has rented out a securable room usually used for parties. This is just downtown, and those that she she is able to remember, contact one to another in some way, or otherwise get ahold of are told the address and a time to meet well in advance of the actual meeting of the group coming up.
The room is gray, with a linoleum floor of speckled white and gray tiling from the seventies, and cinderblock walls that are painted an ash gray while above hums florescent lights. Long tables have been settled into the middle to form one large one with severe, gray, folding metal chairs. However, she did have it catered, knowing they may or may not get anything good refreshment wise at the actual event later. Ham and chese Crossont sandwiches, Watercress and pita 'sandwiches', and scads of glazed Crispy Cream doughnuts with lots of coffee, water, and tea available to go around.
Penny herself is already there with Velok, looking at her laptop like she might put her fist through it. "Well, I THOUGHT I scanned for viruses gods damnit all... stupid piece of shit machine. At least I have the original of the list in my head, but this thing is fried. Velok, Sweetums, did you manage to dig anything up?" Shaking he rhead, sending a scintillation through her raven tresses, she intones "I'm at a total brick wall on the contact list. I hope Brandon got something off the hair.
Brandon did, as a matter of fact. He comes in, holding a bag of cheeseburgers from BK. One of the big bags, too. And they're all whoppers. The other hand has two drink trays carefully balanced on top of one another, turned at an angle to each other so that they don't spill, and one more drink tray dangling from his pinkie finger on the hand that holds the bag. He must be hungry. The bag is set down well away from Penny as he comes in. "I got stuff. Dunno if it was IMPORTANT stuff.. but I got stuff."
Jennifer arrives at the requested time, knocking politely and waiting. She's a little afraid to open the door and just walk in. She looks about to see if anyone else arrives with her.
Brandon would have held open the door for Jennifer.
Jennifer moves to the food then and eats, as she never trusts the food at those meetings.
Velok sits at one of the tables near Penny, a mug of black coffee firmly grasped with his hand. Not tea, as one might expect from him, but the delicious necter of caffeine. He brings the liquid up towards his lips and carefully drinks, staring down fixated at a spot on the table. He looks weary, his eyes heavy, like a man who really does need the caffeine he's drinking. "Nothing to followup on without the contacts, but Brandon..." He says as he looks up, the arrival of the man in question answering his own. He nods his head, falling back quiet and gazing at Jennifer. A large smile spreads across his lips. "Mrs. Morris." He greets, nodding to the redheaded woman and turning his attention to Penny. "Do we want them to stop? With the pills?" He asks flat out, his blue eyes gazing at her.
Molly shows eventually and in her hands a box containing take-out Indian food. Setting it down she opts for the much more health conscious offering of donuts and tea then just finds a place to loiter.
Branton comes along next, this time unencumbered by the wooden case he's brought with him previously, not too long after the others and just in time to catch Velok's question "I can't help but think they're up to something. Mostly because that sort almost always are and memory modification with less than hundred percent clear disclosure and informed consent is some seriously hinky shit."
"It depends," says Penny to Velok, "We're still unclear on their actual motive. Ostensibly the Rabbi is at the center of this, they were very protective of him, that's why I snatched a strand of his hair." She shakes he rhead, "But i relaly don't think we've seen the extend of this shit. I ain'thear nothin' on the streets. The pills... I had a problem because of my own demons I think."
"Brandon! Heyya sweet cheeks. So. Oh gods, did you bring whoppers? I got these dainties fer everyone because I figured on needing som fuckin' delicacy, but I could really use some real fake meat stacks an' grease like a proper 'murican." She shakes her head, "Wha'che get offa tha hair? Whether it seems important or not, it could be the shit that tips the scales here. I got nuthin' on my end."
Brandon reaches in and grabs a whopper - doubles - for Penny, and some fries, and a drink and totes them over, setting it down in front of Penny. "The most vivid thing I got was from the meeting with the rabbi and his gaining movement. I got some stuff of him in the hospital. He was talking to a couple of people I didn't recognise. Male and female, thirties, dark hair, dressed professionally. Family? Maybe. And then some more distant stuff of him at a temple, talking to Luke and Katherine and a couple of other people that I didn't recognise. Like I said, nothing that seems important." He takes a breath and pulls out a burger for himself, taking a seat, kicking back with his feet up on a table. "I don't think we should stop them until we know what's up. Maybe I should go to them myself and do a few things here and there."
Molly pipes up, "Did you happen to see which temple they were at? Perhaps that might be a clue in itself?
Jennifer smirks back at Velok, fetching some coffee and a donut to start. Dipping the Krispy Kreme and eating it, "You look worn down to the nub.." she tells Velok. "Found anything interesting?"
Velok nods his head towards Penny, taking another deep drink from his coffee cup. He smiles as the woman receives her food, leaning across the table to steal some of her fries, even if she tries to bat his hand away. He looks back to Jennifer and munches on a fry. "Oh, not related. After the dance last night, only slept for a bit before a friend needed me to go help her out of trouble." Velok shrugs, though his eyes do glance back to Penny for a moment, munching the other fry.
Branton shrugs and offers "I've been wondering what'd happen if I took one of their pills. I'm not a telepath or anything like that but I've been told my mental defenses are as good as someone who isn't awakened can get. Would be like handling something with active energy through safety gloves maybe...." he trails off and pauses for a moment "Just keep an eye to make sure they don't try to make me do anything." Nodding to Molly "Especially if the temple's hooked into the supernatural side of things. Qaballistic mystics are no joke."
Jennifer shrugs, sipping her drink before addressing Branton, "I saw it's effects through someone else's 'eyes' though that's not quite the right word.. or maybe it is.. it was a slightly psychodelic experience.. Made me wonder if there isn't a psychotropic inside, or if that was just the thoughts that came with it. The more interesting thing is that the thoughts are focused on something.. In that case music, in the first man's case it was.. what, shakespeare? And didn't they seem to know what it would be when they asked the question?"
Leaning over and gently kissing Velok on the lips, though not making a production of it as things are getting started, Penny does then chomp into her burger with zeal. With that wide, browd-toothed mouth, most of it is gone in a couple bites. She chews, swallows, and intones "Brandon. I know you don't want anyone delving too deep; I understand and respect that." She finishes off her burger and wipes the juices and sauces from her lips, "But. Do you mind bringing the vision to the forefront of your mind? Concentrate just on that, focus on it, let me grab it, and I may have a way of showing it to everyone if need be."
Brandon shakes his head. "I MIGHT be able to identify it if I saw it again, but I did a few internet searches and I didn't come up with anything that struck a chord. I'm a psychometrist, not a mage. My stuff doesn't get that detailed." He nods to Branton. "Maybe we should go together or something?" He shrugs at Penny. Sure. Long as you don't go mucking around in there. I don't have a way to stop you, but I don't have any objections if you're just looking at that." He takes another bite of his burger, a fry, a sip of delicious Dr. Pepper and closes his eyes, concentrating.
Velok is onto Penny's tricks. He makes sure there's no fry her kiss is trying to steal before he kisses the woman back, smiling rather wide as he does. He scoots over closer, tilting his head to the side and leaning it against Penny, letting his eyes close. "Investigating the temple is a good idea, but there is a level of looking where it's difficult to go back. If they're innocent, we probably won't end up finding anything. If they're not, then the more we look, they'll catch on..." His voice trails away as he nuzzles a little bit against Penny, resting his eyes. "Could always...ask them. Hey, what's up. Are you devious?" He says quietly, as if just to Penny or himself.
Branton seems about to say something and then pauses and settles back thoughtfully in his chair, crossing his arms before offering "If the insight it grants is related to the recipiant's surface thoughts what if one of us took it and meditatively focused on the group's true nature and goals?"
Molly licks glaze off her fingers and shrugs, "I dunno, I do know the way they wheeled that rabbi out. My first thoughts were what was wrong with him. The said they were trying something new, could it be they were trying to fix something wrong with him? I swear at first glance he kinda looked like an Alzheimers patient you know not really in touch with reality. Then they pass out the pills and he's making sense."
"It's not about you stopping me; I ain't gonna go into your head without your leave. You're a friend, not an enemy. And I promise you, I will only be looking at that. It's just a tool like any other; just one more language. Clear EVERYTHING else out of your head. I don't want to grab anything by accident, but I'm only going to go to the surface."
Looking to Jennifer, Penny says, "I'm not sure if anyone else didn't hear, the pill is just acetyl acedicillic acid. In other words, its fuckin' asprin. Last time Maz and I and Velok and I'm not sure who else countered enough of the effect that we now know we can bring it down. It's a hive mind effect. A sort of shared experience, shared knowledge effect. But I haven't managed to watc hthe weave form itself. It has multiple nexi, each person who takes the pill. I have a feeling the pills are just charms... but that is just conjecture."
Penny reaches into her architect's portfolio and pulls out a sheet of paper and lays it out on the table in front of her. She fraws a circle, mor eor less rightly without the need of a compass tool. And then withut lifting the charcoal draws a pentacle. She inscribes the cardnal directions, and the five lements of Greek alchemy all in Ancient Greek, then further inscribes around the circle. Placing her palm at the center she says to Brandon. "Okay. Place your hand on the norther point of the Pntacle. the ne facing you. Now. Focus on your vision, push all else out."
Brandon nods to Penny, keeping his eyes closed. Everything's cleared out... as much as he can manage. One doesn't just blank their mind completely without a LOT of practice. He does his best though. Maybe he won't embarrass himself TOO bad. He opens his eyes and reaches out to put his hands where he's told, closing his eyes again and pushing.. at least most of his brain junk out of the way
"Charms?" Jennifer asks, still having very little understanding of the 'magic' that most of them deal with.. She moves closer to look at the ritual being performed.. not sure what she's going to see, but Penny did imply she could share the vision with them.
The most vivid image that Brandon picked up was from the meeting where you acquired it, the rabbi regaining movement from his own perspective. There were also a couple images of him in the hospital, watching and listening as unfamiliar people (both in their thirties, dark brown hair, one male and one female, dressed for a day at the office) sit with him. Finally, there were some more distant visions of the rabbi at a temple, talking with Lucas and Katherine among some other strangers.
This is, of course, intermingled with little bits of brain junk. Turning off the coffee pot? Yup. Did that. No. Back on track. Words on a screen.. maybe a sneak peek at his next novel? 'Tammy shrieked, her voice cracking at the end as the blade comes ...' No. Stop that. Goddamn it. Focus. What the fuck is wrong with you? Rabbi. Rabbi. I knew a rabbi once. God he was an idiot. No.. stop that. Hospital. A flash of a rather OLD hospital, everyone dressed in 1920's garb, Brandon's there, holding the hand of a woman who's coughing her head off, a little boy sitting on his lap..... Goddamn it... FOCUS, dumbass.. Katherine... Lucas.... the pills... no.. not the pills.. focus on the HAIR. You suck at this. SO bad.
Velok's eyes open as Penny and Brandon start to work the ritual. "It's a type of item" Velok clarifies a bit for Jennifer before he leans his head off of Penny. He scoots his way out of his chair, his hand sliding along Penny's hip as he moves around her to go get tea, drinking the rest of the coffee quickly. He stays quiet, glancing back towards the ritual and returning to Penny's side. He starts to rub his hand up and down her back, staring at the images. "Are Katherine and Lucas related to the Rabbi, or members of his temple?" He asks quietly of the woman, gesturing towards one of those distant visions
Jennifer peers at Velok, hoping there's more of an explanation than that after this ritual.. Cause 'it's a 'thing'' doesn't exactly clarify what Charms are. She does follow the vision, including the stumbling at the end of it... She blinks, thinking, 'How OLD is Brandon?!'
Branton listens quietly and ponders as the mojo gets slung, waiting to see what there is to see.
Not keeping the link up with Brandon longer than is necessary, Penny breaks the ritual by removing her hand from the circle. However, the laptop continues to loop the video file over and over. After the second repetition, the other stuff that had nothing to do with the vision is chopped out of the loop however. The images are hazy, like they were taken with soft-focus camera, but those details that Brandon were clear about are clear as a bell.
"Okay. Thank you Brandon. Sorry... about the extraneous thoughts." She furrows her brow, and settles back into Velok's hands for a moment, giving the man a hug as she looks thoughtful. Turning to Jennifer she responds then, "A charm is a temporary magical item. One use. things like Magical Scrolls inscribed with spells that anyone can cast if they know the key word. That's just one example, they cme in all forms of magic, it is like having a ritual cast ahead of time and and being able to unleash it when you need to, in essence. These pills... sort of remind me of that."
Brandon clears his throat and turns several shades of red. At least he wasn't thinking about what he was doing BEFORE he got there. Good god. THAT might... well.. anyway. He nods, his eyes on his hands which move to his lap before he goes back to gnawing on his burger
Velok slides both his arms around Penny, wrapping around her from behind and hugging her as the images end. He perches his head on her shoulder, peering over the woman and keeping his eyes on the laptop screen. "They are a bit like charms, but I think the worry was that there'd be a lasting effect. That everyone who has partaken in one of the pills is tainted by them, so that something can happen at any time." He doesn't like the idea, a frown prominant in his features. "He met with some strangers and the two people at the temple. That'll be one of the next leads, at least. Did anyone recognize any of the strangers in that vision?" He asks, his arms staying wrapped around Penny as he considers, looking to the laptop. "Can you pull that one image back up again, the strangers might be in the contacts." Velok asks, looking over towards Brandon. "Thanks." He offers to the man turning red, appreciative.
Branton nods to Velok "Like it sets up a sympathetic link. You've been part of the web once so they can weave you back in for something else? Or tap you for something?"
Molly listens quietly as people discuss the matters at hand.
Pulling the images with the strangers back up, Penny looks thoughtful for a moment. "Are these clear enough images that if we decide to go the scrying route, someone could scry through space for them without a name? We could find the old rabbi any time. We have a piece of his hair." She shakes her head, 'We have all of these pieces, and yet not a real image of the whole enchalada. She grabs a handfull of fries as she lans against Veloks, shoving them into her mouth in a single bite. "There's not even a guarantee, honestly, that all of this is anything but benign. I don't agree with the methodology... but they could be sincerely trying to use this thing to help people."
Brandon has no idea on all THAT. He remains quiet, gnawing on his burger and sipping his drink
"So.. we send someone in to get a little closer to the inside. Seems like we're running around like headless chickens, flapping our wings and bleeding all over the place." Brandon sits upright, chomping a fry in half. "I'm just going to go in. I'm curious. My motives aren't NECESSARILY against them. I genuinely want to know more about it."
Velok looks over towards Branton from behind Penny. "There's not all that many possibilities really. They could genuinely be trying to help people, in which case more power to them. But if we're only wanting to focus on the reasonings that we might get involved, that would be a likely one. They're giving out free samples, and we're the test group to see if they can manipulate us after we've been part of the web. That would certainly be nefarious." He starts to consider, listing out different possibilities from his sleep deprived, potentially addled mind. "There could be some subconscious trigger associated with the increased knowledge. It could be a type of taint..." He purses his lips and turns his head, kissing Penny's neck for a moment. "That's what I would do, if I had ulterior motives." Velok shrugs, leaning down to steal another fry, but not munching on it nearly as fast as Penny does. "I like the temple lead, but we could do it through more mundane leads too, in case there's a way of detection. Don't want to show our hands too fast." Velok nods to Brandon, nomming on the fry.
Jennifer ponders, "Why did we get invitations?" she asks.. "Is it because of the ummm.. magic?" she asks curiously. Looking between the group and fetching a cresandwich.
Molly shrugs, "That always bothered me, I mean I don't know about he rest of you but no where in the public record does the word mage appear next to my name. Yet they seem uncanny in their ability to pick out those who hide their secret natures."
"In the end, though," says Penny, "Not that this is the worst that could happen, we know they are being disengenous fucks." She Sits there with Velok, letting him kiss her neck, and reaches back to lightly stroke his hair, looking like a gangland prncess.
"You're right of course. We have no real direction on this. And little to go off of in ters of finding mor ebesides going in. We're wrapped in one way or another because there's the possibility that walking away... people get hurt. Or even that we can't walk away because, as was mentioned, the link seemed sympathetic. They basically have our number in the reality machine and could dial us up at any time now."
Nodding to Jennifer and Molly, Penny responds, "Also something that has bothered me a bit. As a member of house Fortunae I don't believe in real happenstance. We were brought into this for a purpose, not by accident."
She sighs, "I suppose all we can do is go in. See what can be seen. We'll see about following up on the temple lead. Now that we have an image of its interior, ther emight be something about it that marks it as unique. At any rate, it has to be local, so I'll start compiling a list of local temples."
Velok shrugs his shoulders, detatching from Penny and moving back beside her with a small smile on his lips. He sips from his tea, savoring the taste. "Unless anyone has any other ideas, I suppose. Lots of people are disingenuous. The answer could just as easily be something like their drug not receiving approval from the F..." Velok stops, tilting his head and looking back to Penny. "DA?" Yea, that's probably the right acronym. "Yea, the drug people. Maybe they didn't get approval and are using us as test subjects that way. Wouldn't be too long of a stretch with that story. Rabbi relative is losing his mind, couple do whatever they can to try and help him, get told no, push forward illegaly out of love or..." Velok shrugs, staying seated and staring down into his tea. He agrees with Penny. "Fate has a habit of bringing things together, but it can be hard to understand most of the time."
Jennifer ponders, and says aloud, "It DID strike me as weird that Katherine thought of 'letting the rabbi out' not 'making him better'." she shrugs as she eats her cresandwich.
Brandon is still just listening, but he finally nods. "Right. So I go out of town tomorrow to run to Washington. Once I get there, I'll call them and see what I can personally do to move this forward."
"If it was an FDA approval thing, or anything to odo with the bio-chemical side at all, the pills wouldn't be plain ordinary aspirin. they are just a focal point for th eneural net that forms. There is someting else going onBut the rest... may be exactly as you say, Hon. It could be a benevolent magic user trying to help the rabbi. But yeah, I heard the 'let him out' also."
Looking to Brandon she nods. "Okay. You've got my number, right? So, call, text, whatevs about what you find if anything."
Branton frowns and shrugs "The letting him out part could still be benevolent. A sorcerous misfire could have left him trapped in his own body and say now his own brain meat isn't enough processing power to make himself go. Like a hardware fault. So they make these pills to set up a neural net, let people tap into the universal unconcious and use that carrier signal for a shared resources thing like the SETI screensaver."
Molly shakes her head, "Thats bloody creepy to think about. To have your mind used to allow another to act like you were nothing more then a battery."
Later that day, at a local synagogue
Jennifer doesn't know much about jewish services.. She finds a woman who looks like she belongs there and glancing around, tries to check what things she might need to know to fit in with the crowd.. When she's comfortable.. she looks around and spots Katherine and the other man.. which leaves her pondering.
Showing up as Abby Perloff, with shoulder-length straight brown hair, brown eyes, and looks that are only a little above average in that mousey girl next door kind of way, Penny has even adjusted her figure a little. Opting for the city's average of slim and small chested. She is dressed in a gray heather sweater-vest and long black pleated skirt as she takes a look around the temple, and sits through the service with a sense of apparent attentiveness. Once it is over she lingers, quiet and contemplative.
Molly would most certainly not fit in to any church service so instead she remains in the parked vehicle and uses her phone to take pictures of cars and people for later.
It's a friendly enough service: the older attendees are a bit solemn, the kids don't really /want/ to take it seriously but they know better than to rock the boat. Except for that one kid in the back, who's getting a earful from each parent as they walk him back to the car. Katherine and Brown-Haired Man are among a group standing around and making small talk over coffee.
Velok drops AbbyPenny off near the temple, moving to park somewhere else, conspicuously right behind Molly. He kicks back in his seat and lets his head rest on the back of the seat, keeping his phone on his chest just in case Penny texts.
Jennifer seems to be largely keeping to herself.. she looks over towards the brown-haired man, nodding slightly before glancing at Katherine.. licking her lips nervously.
Stepping over to where Katherine and the brown-haired man are smalltalking, Penny, as Abby, is quiet and for the moment just seeing if she can get close enough to hear any of said small-talk. Even in disguise, it would be better not to engage if possible, but she will if she doesn't at least hear the brown-haired man named.
Jennifer texts Velok idly it seems.. sending him a message. <<L is running out of time.. K is religious and there was some sort of problem last time... Resistance? Oh and B-haired man might be RF's son... might be..>> She then turns her gaze back towards the brownhaired man.
Velok's phone vibrates on his chest, his eyes pressing open quickly. He looks down and peers at it, sliding the phone down into his fingers. <<Are we the resistance?>> He texts to Jennifer idly, his eyes lifting to Molly's car and staring at it. He watches for a couple seconds, then looks back to the temple. He looks back to the phone and texts Penny. <<Is your disguise strong enough to impersonate trial member?>>
<<Not sure... did we resist???>> Jennifer replies to Velok, then adds, <<Not Rabbi's son.. pretty sure...>> She then looks around the temple to see if anyone is looking at her funny..
Fully intouch with her inner stalker Molly is busy with her pictures, car plates, people. It's not much but she is trying to assist.
"Oh!" Abby has a text! She fumbles her phone out, looks it over for a moment, and texts back, <<I think so, but I didn't have time to whip up any fake credentials so it's all on the strength of my appearance.>> She puts pher phone away and smiles to Katherin and Mr. Brown-hair, saying "Hi!" I'm Abby. Abby Perloff. I'm new here... "
<<We could have been, sure. We did resist a bit last time and made a fuss. They might recognize you, support Abby if she needs help.>> Velok directs to Jennifer via phone, keeping his lips pursed. He reaches forward and flicks on the radio, just because. For Penny he taps away. <<Find out connections, tension to play off of. Names, possibly. Don't push too far. If worst comes to worst, we can try direct interrogation>>
Katherine offers Abby a polite smile, and Albert manages to at least murmur a cordial greeting before letting her field the bulk of the conversation. "Well, it's always good to see some new faces around. Are you looking for a place, or just visiting?"
"Ohhh... ya'know... visiting with intent," explains Abby, "Kinda out on my own for the first time, nothin' behind and the the whole world ahead!" She tips her head to one side. She's one of those, the ones who affirms all the time, "Yeah." She looks to Albert and then leans closer to Katherine, "Maybe... ya know. Meet someone if, ya know what I mean. How long ya been with him? WOW. Mimaw always did say tall dark and handsome woul dlead you right."
Jennifer seems to be checking her phone pretty frequently, reading texts and what not. Occasionally she glances up at Abby as she chats with those folks..
Albert's faint half-smile nearly cracks into a real one, in light of that comment. "Oh, we're not a couple," he explains to Abby, "we're just on a fundraiser committee together. My wife's picking up the kids from their lesson." Indeed, several kids who weren't hauled out early are now approaching the area, chatting and waving and splitting off to rejoin their families.
Velok purses his lips, continuing to bounce his head back and forth to the music. Eventually he reaches for his phone, tapping in something for both. <<Cui Bono.>> He closes his eyes and waits.
Abby gasps, "Oh my gosh, look at you with those kids!" She shakes her head, "Your Mother and Father must be SO proud! I know mine would be. She's ALWAYS goin' on 'Abby, you're an adult already get a man, where are my grandkids. I want ta see them before I die!" She looks between Katherine and Albert, "So, is it a fundraiser for the Temple? I'm floored, really, just floored at the, er um.. what's that word... yeah the comaraderie of this place."
Jennifer arches her brow as she reads the text, shaking her head with a lack of understanding.
The kids get some smiles, of course, and then they're packed off to the parking lot in turn, Albert waving and following along behind. "We're doing some renovations," Katherine explains. "Some of the offices still have asbestos, and if we can get those opened back up again then we can start doing more programs--" It continues on a little while in that general vein.
Jennifer sends a text back to Velok with a ??? and nothing else, she looks over at Katherine and abby, watching them with her lips pursed as she doesn't seem to get anything else particularly useful...
That is the thing about magic, sometimes it just fizzles. The Psychics and sorcerors have it much easier when it comes to finesse. Abby pulls out a six inch by three inch hard bound sketch book and makes a few marks in it with a pen. "Oh wow that's just fantastic, I mean this place is nice as it is... " She does a bit of a dance back and forth, "If... ah... you'll excuse me, I need ta find the little girl's room, if you know what I mean? Yeah?"
Velok glances down to the phone, then stares off at the temple. He doesn't respond for a little bit, then responds to Jennifer. <<Nothing. Did you find out anything else?>>
Jennifer replies <<She seems to be telling the truth??? but I don't think it's important>>