Crystal Visions

Crystal Visions 1

“Man, it would have been cooler if we used an old abandoned warehouse…or something…” Regency scowled at the upscale, but empty, gallery, “unless we’re finding lost art or something…”

“…or like a secret room under an overpass, like a technical or equipment room. That’s be cooler,” Corey added, enjoying the chitchat in the hot night air, which got stuffier as they entered the gallery.

“It’s centrally located” lectured Demilla, “We’re not here to be cool.”
“Well you’re not,” quipped Regency.
“I like the gallery headquarters as a concept,” Madame I Ogli just had to add as she too entered, “I once ran an Op from the Louvre…”
“OK! Location location location I get it! Next time I’ll find somewhere centrally located and cooler. Ok? Can we huddle up?”
“What?” “Huh?” “Hug?”
“Come stand in a CIRCLE!” Demilla shouted.
“Jeez!” said Regency although he actually thought ‘someone’s on the rag’ but knew better than to say it.

Detective Demilla rolled out a map of Los Angeles. It was huge. The map not her. Detective Demilla is average height, toned and pretty although not in a come-hither way more of a go-away look. Also assembled were her civilian, meaning non-cop, counterparts.

In times of peril, or just plain weirdness, the LAPD would hire Corey and friends to handle the bizarre. It didn’t happen often. Mostly the gang worked for private individuals and companies who dealt in the occult and peripheries. “Private detectives with a witchy bend,” well that was Regency’s current attempt at logo-branding them.

Corey, tall and strong, squatted over the map. His aura tonight was a fun light blue. He wasn’t taking any of this seriously. Madame I Ogli the too much make up wearing psychic drag queen with purple wig looked instead at the walls and wondered what art might have been there. She was pulsing a calm deep yellow aura, a beacon for restless spirits as it were. And least, I mean last, Philip Regency who handled mundane and nerdy computer-like things; although recently he became a sort of apprentice to Corey. He pulsed a spectrum of colors. He was a bit scattered.

The only light in the room, besides auras if you can see them, was one strip of track lighting that fell, conveniently, onto the map on the floor. Everything else was dark. Even the white walls seemed to grey as the silence grew in the room.

“Ok,” stated Demilla, now ready, “the mission is simple. We take a package from here,” she pointed to the map marking LAX, “and we deliver it here to Union Station.” Again she pointed at the map.

“Are you kidding me?” Corey laughed, “we’re a courier service now?”
“Yes,” she barked, “and you’re being paid well for it so shut up and listen!”

Eyes rolled. Madame slightly tsk’d but no one said anything. Demilla continued, “Sorry. We have a very strict timeline. I only found out about this when I called you. And this isn’t LAPD. It’s Feds which equals extra angst and assholes.”

“It’s a bomb.” Madame didn’t ask.
“WHAT!” shrieked Regency.
“Quiet. Let Demilla finish” Corey took control of the room and handed it to Demilla. A gesture she was not un-used to. Had it been anyone other than Corey she would have found it patronizing.

“Thanks.” She nodded and continued, “Yes it’s a bomb, but of magickal construct, hence the you guys. Or us guys. Anyway. Feds are intercepting it from a dealer, who stole it from its guardians. We have to get it back to a guardian. One of whom will be at Union Station tonight.”

“When do the Feds get it? Do they need our help to..”
Demilla cut Corey off, “no. They’ll use standard TSA procedures to get it away legally. Then…well it’s just gunna kind of go missing.”

“Missing into our hands?” laughed Madame.
“yup.”
“Why us?” Regency hated being confused, “I mean they’re feds just turn on some cop lights and haul butt to the train station!”
“It’s trackable.” Demilla eyed Corey who sighed. “They’re, well, I’m hoping our magick can cover its signal,” she continues before Madame could interrupt the obvious, “yes I know it’s a temporary solution. Here’s how I figure it: We run a relay. I’ll start. I give 5 to 10 minutes before they track onto me. I hand it off to Regency while they continue tracking me. Few minutes later, they reposition and follow Regency. Who has handed it to Madame..”

“…and by the time they kill Regency, they’ll realize the bomb’s been moved and come and kill me. But not before I have given the bomb to Corey? I see flaws in your plan Dear.” Madame smiled.

“Why can’t we go with the Feds, mask us and them?” Regency asked.
“They offered, but I thought you’d prefer to not engage the FBI.” She cast a knowing glance at Regency who nodded.

“I have two huge questions,” blurted out Corey. “Who is tracking it and thus coming after us? And what exactly is the bomb?”

Demilla took a breath. She knew this was a hard sell. “It’s a crystal.”
“a what?” “seriously” “crystal meth bomb?”

“I know. It’s rare…”
“It’s impossible!” Corey laughed again but this time in disbelief.
“It’s not,” Demilla paused, “I know the guardians Corey. This is dark magick. Storing up potential energy over hundreds of years. That’s why they are so trackable. The energy is overwhelming. If you don’t channel out the excess every few minutes, it’ll go boom.”

“How long do we have?” Madame asked.
“Los Angeles has a little over an hour. We think.”
“The trip itself will take 2 hours.” Madame speculated.
“Nah.” Regency added, “I’ve done beach and back on my bike. We can do it.”

“And this goes down tonight?” Corey gulped.
“Yes.”
“How big?” asked Regency?
“The explosion? Don’t know exactly. Probably not Hiroshima but…let’s be glad no one’s at Staple’s Center tonight.”

“No I meant how big is the evil crystal.”
“It’s not evil Regency. Size? I guess it’s cut at eight inches. Apparently: decent girth. Should fit nicely in your hands. It’s a powerful tool to…” Demilla stopped when she saw the red-faces of the other three trying to take her seriously.

Corey broke first. Fits of laughter followed. Madame snorted and clutched her stomach. Regency was literally rolling on the floor.
“GUYS! Come on!” Demilla rolled her eyes. Her elite squad of super witches were really just 13 year-old boys. Men. “Goddamn it guys STOP laughing! This is serious!”

They didn’t stop for quite a while.

Crystal Visions 2

Man, LAX was busy for a Sunday night. Demilla remembered her childhood as the airplanes took off. She’d sit and wonder ‘where was everyone going?’ ‘Did they want to go?’ The globe on her desk was so huge there were lots of places to be. She always wondered if she’d get out of that one dot she’d made on the globe. Made with a fat marker, the dot actually covered a lot more than her suburb. Demilla laughed remembering how exotic places like Boston sounded.

She had left the dot a log time ago. A lot had happened to make her the woman she was. That eager little girl became a witch who became a detective who became whatever she was now. A bunch of pieces of a shattered life strung or clung together. But that made it sound less amazing than it felt. She had a great job. She had friends. Her life kind of rocked. And she had Amanda, her girlfriend, to share it with. She was…actually happy or content… ‘Wow that’s weird…’ she thought to herself.

Demilla hadn’t stopped fighting so long she had forgotten to check in with herself. Yea. She was happy. How cool is that? Here in an empty parking area of the airport, in a rare quiet moment, she didn’t have to be anything other than what she was. And that “thing” was happy. ‘…hmm maybe it’s just the spell talking…’

Her smile ran back into its pocket as headlights approached. Obviously-a-Fed car pulled up fast. Reaching into her window, she blinked her headlights. Which seemed corny but these were Feds and they did things a bit old school. Too old school.

A large man in a suit got out and stormed towards her car. Demilla walked out to meet him. He stopped and pulled out a gun.
She instinctively threw up her hands, “Whoa! Hang on!”

“Who are you?” barked the would-be-alpha.
“The LAX cheerleading committee,” she snarked. He tightened his grip so Demilla let the attitude go, “I’m Detective Demilla. Agent Haralson? Yes? Look man, we’ve minutes before that thing is trackable. What’s the deal?”
“I wasn’t told you’d be a girl.” He eyed her.

Demilla thought about 54 things at the same time. They all boiled down to being annoyed. Seriously in this day and age? She reached for her badge. Rookie Fed got nervous, “keep your hands where I can see them. I’m gonna call this in.”

Demilla kept her hands where he could see them. But not her feet. Ah, the old roundhouse. A classic. His gun was in his right hand. (Should you ever need to know this.) Now your gut says ‘inside roundhouse left foot’ because you want the gun away from you. But you’d hit the resistance of the entire hand. Demilla was smarter than that. You inside roundhouse right. Which seems like it puts the gun more towards you but, as the resistance is only empty air and a thumb pulled back, it actually flips the gun towards the assailant. Or in this case the Fed.

In an ideal situation, you may follow thru with a nice simple chop to the throat. Demilla wasn’t trying to kill him. Instead she followed thru with a basic takedown and thrust her badge into his face, “Here’s my badge asshole. Now where’s the crystal so I can get the hell out of Dodge! I just lost a very precious 3 minutes and no I’m not on the rag.”

“jjj-jacket” Agent Haralson croaked. Demilla reached in and took the crystal. She suppressed a smile. It did kind of look like a….

“Agent Haralson,” his walkie squeaked, “They’re moving. Fast. Did you drop the present?”
Demilla walked to her car, “get gone Agent Haralson. These guys are almost as mean as me.” Something in her gut tingled.
“Yes ma’am. Sorry about the…” but Demilla sped away.

You can probably figure this out for yourself, but incase you missed the footnote: Demilla drives like Nascar on crack. In less than 5 minutes she slammed on the brakes in back of the 7-11 where she found Regency slurping a slushie. Her gut ached with understanding the whole way.

“Here!” She thrust the crystal into his…”Hand me the slushy!” He obeyed. Then: She thrust the crystal into his hands, “get going! They’re not far.” And she took off like lightning.

Regency was startled. His head rattled for a second. “Ok! Ride bitch ride!” he yelled as he skateboarded away through downtown LA.

Demilla had turned 2 blocks when the feeling in her gut got worse. She had felt them coming since LAX but now they were close. “But where are they…” BAM. A gunshot. Her tire went out. “Mother…I said no guns!” Demilla cursed as she slid the car to a stop by the LA River. Gun-out she walked away towards a well lit street. POW!

A right cross in the kisser. “You’re fucking invisible!?! Not fair!” There was a slight pause. That right cross should have been fatal. Demilla seemed to guess heir confusion, “Yea I’m cheating too!” BAM!

Another punch to the gut. She went down. Down but not out. “Automobile!” she heard. UHG a kick in the stomach but she was ready and caught the invisible foot. “Gotcha!” she exploded. Then BAM a second kick knocked her down and rattled her brain as she heard, “Nein!” Footsteps ran away.

From her boot, she pulled out a second gun and opened fire as she ran in the opposite direction. She heard an “ow” or “uhg” sound and then footsteps. She ran harder. She took a deep breath. She heard a car start. She said the words to let her see. From a dark alley came a black old-style Ford. She realized her gut wasn’t tingling anymore. “Shit!” They realized she didn’t have the crystal and were back on course for Regency. The Ford passed by her and Demilla opened fire…but she didn’t have any bullets left. The really ugly guy inside smiled at her as they drove by. She no longer mattered to them. That pissed her off more than the fight. Standing in the middle of the street Demilla screamed “Pussies! Come back and fight!”

The car went around the corner. Demilla speed-dialed Corey and yelled, “This is Leg 1. THEY’RE INVISABLE!”

Crystal Visions 3

Man, finally the adults in the gallery composed themselves and Demilla could continue, “…we don’t have a lot of time to plan.”

“Sounds like you figured it out Dear’” Madame cooed, “except I don’t have a car and Regency can’t drive.”
“Can too! I just don’t have an actual license.” He defended his honor, “but I can skateboard!”
“That’s what I’m hoping for. On a skateboard or bike,” she nodded to Madame, “you can go opposite ways on streets, stay off the paths, loose them.”

“And who exactly is them?” Corey asked still not buying the evil crystal idea at all. In fact he thought the whole idea was ridiculous.
Demilla arched her back, “¨Gübers.”

Regency fell over laughing. He returned to the floor face full on red. Madame buckled over guffawing and trying to catch her breath, “Oh no goobers!”
“wait wait,” laughed Regency, “maybe they’ll have snowcaps and jujubes with them! A concession stand of pain!”

Corey wasn’t laughing, “Crap.”
Suddenly the room got real serious.
“You’re not serious?” Madame gasped.
“Evil crystals now evil candy? Is nothing sacred!” Regency shook his head.
“Oh so you believe him!” Demilla rolled her eyes.
“umm yea, well you’re always serious,” Regency pointed to Corey, “he never is. Boss why the stiff lip? Come on? Goobers?”
“Not goooooobers Gübers with an umlaut. Are you sure?” Corey begged.
“Yes.” She pulled out a file with a photo of a large man in a suit. His nose was misshapen…and well all of his features just looked wrong. Somehow.

Corey shuttered, “That looks like them. Although their faces are a bit better. These could almost pass as human.”
“Dear,” Madame was confused, “I’ve never heard of a Güber monster. What are they?”
“Über Ghouls. They’re specific. Not your run of the mill menace. They’re mercenaries, the expensive kind. They are elite. Quiet. Smart. Occasionally skilled in magick and every weapon ever. And while ghouls are almost impossible to kill…these guys….”
“Can’t…Oh my” Madame grasped for hope, “can they be harmed? Magicked?”

Corey eyed Demilla who shrugged, “They can be harmed. Wounded. Shackled. Bound. Starved. I once cut one’s head off and melted it in copper and the thing came back. If they want this crystal we cannot let them have it! Now I understand the relay plan. I didn’t mean to doubt earlier.”

“No it’s cool.” Demilla took the compliment, “I would have started with the Gübers but I wanted you to know I had a way around it.”
Corey nodded but Regency was not convinced, “So they just kill us one by one? Your plan bites! Über bites. That’d be Büber apparently.”

“They’re not here to party,” Demilla reassured un-reassuringly, “They want the crystal. When they realize we don’t have it, they’ll hone in on its frequency…the way a dog can smell something it’s been conditioned to find…and they’ll move on. That’s why we have to stay one step ahead of them.”

“We’ll also need to bulk up.” Madame went into her purse. She pulled out some small bottles and an amulet, “what do we need? I have a see in the dark, and I added just a hint of eyebright so it also sees thru cloaking and impervious to hypnotism! ”
“NO WAY!” regency grabbed the vile.
“I don’t think we need to worry about them in the dark. We’ll see them alright. The problem is when we fight them.” Corey almost whispered, “how’s everyone’s fortification?”

“Oh my! Vulgar!” hissed Madame!
“A lot less vulgar than your face being in three places…speaking of which: Corey. When you hit the Train Station: Split.”
“Way ahead of you. But that just gives them 2 extra targets…I’ll think of something. Do you need me to…”
“No.” said Demilla too quickly, “I can fortitude all by myself. I just need a quiet room.”

“What are you all doing? I hate being confused. I’m the smart one!” Regency blundered.
Demilla sighed, “Fortification spells guard your physical being. It magically makes you less threatened to being hit. It won’t make us bullet proof but I doubt they’ll be using guns. Risk of hitting the crystal. It’s like a shield…no that’s a crappy example…”
Regency knew this, “like D&D extra strength points!”

“Like extra skin.” Corey chimed in, “but it’s a complicated spell and it can…well ya know…it’s dude spell…it…it’s like a super shot of testosterone. Gets you all roused-up?”
“huh?”
“Makes you a stud…well think you are,” Laughed Madame “all virile. Super-man! Which is apropos since we’re fighting super-ghouls. SO very Nietzsche!”

The three separated to perform various spells that would make them frat-boy like dudes searching for a phallus bomb. I believe Madame should have gone with Freud. Regency realized quickly that he didn’t know any fortifying spells. He didn’t know any spells except how to breathe and see the Earth and that was so not going to help him! As if reading his mind Corey said, “I’ll do you. Take off your clothes.”

Regency reddened, “take…what!?!”
Corey knew Regency’s body-image issues since he tried to pray at the Equinox and Regency would NOT go skyclad. “You have to at least take off you shirt.”
“ I hated shirts and skins in elementary school and I have never healed.” Regency pouted child-like, “Why do I have to?”
Corey tried to be firm, “Regency this is serious. Super strength ghouls are coming after you. If they catch you they will hit you. You have to have protection. In order to transfer this spell my skin has to make contact with your skin.”

Madame couldn’t resist, “I can do it!”
“Hell no,” Regency protested and shot a glare at Demilla, “and no boobies are touching this dude!”

Now it was Demilla’s turn to laugh, “Chicken!”

The laughter crescendoed for a bit and then died down as the magicks were dispensed and tried. Regency drank his bottle so as not to feel left out of the humming, chanting and glowing. Finally Corey sat down on the ground and motioned Regency over. He sat him between his legs. Regency’s back to his chest as he slowly lifted Regency’s shirt. Regency panicked. ‘This is happening! OMGod it’s almost like sex but not yet!’ Regency’s mind gasped. Corey held him tight and mumbled into his ear.

‘It’s the spell. That’s why I’m…excited…it’s the spell. OMGod he’s breathing in my ear!’ Regency certainly felt more roused up as Corey let him go. He felt a weird sense of bravado and power. Like he could skateboard down a staircase! As he stood, Demilla came over and punched him in the face!

“OW!” yelled Regency until he realized it hadn’t hurt. “Cool! Dude hit me again!” She did.

Crystal Visions 4

“Man, I drank that stuff Madame gave me,” Regency yelled into the phone while skateboarding down a mostly deserted boulevard.
“I know,” Corey sounded worried or impatient or both, “but that doesn’t mean they’ll look real. They may look like shadows. They may….”
“DUUUUUUUUDE I so got this!” Regency felt the over protective bit was getting old. “I’m trying to skateboard and talk on the cell. Which is illegal I am sure.”
“Ok fine. Be careful.”

Regency clicked off the cell and continued his mission. On which he was aaaaawesome! Fortification spells rule! Only a few blocks more, then Madame and then his super duper amazing self was mission accomplished! Blam bitches!
“Take the next right in 20 feet” the nice lady on Google Maps said to him. He had even plotted the most efficient, and down-hilly as possible, course.

Turning right onto a small street Regency saw some kids in front of him. He hopped his skateboard, showing off his skills, and changed direction so as to circumvent the kids. Who, it turns out, weren’t kids. They were a group of drunk drunks fighting in the street. Well they were fighting until they saw a victim on wheels coming at them.

Regency went to the side of the first two and then his arm was grabbed. Forcing him to pop off his board and catch it. “WTF!” he yelled as he shook his arm free, “What’s your problem!” A small part of Regency was shrieking run! But the other part, the part that was fortified, was loving the confrontation.

“My problem is money! I need yours. Now!” The drunk guy slurred. Regency waved his hand in front of him, “What you need is a shower. What you’re gunna get,” he held the board between both hands over his head, “is bitch slapped long board style!”

Some of the drunks stepped back impressed. Others got tense. The one talking to him laughed, “you think so huh?” Regency wasn’t paying attention to the fact that he was now surrounded. Not being a thug for real, he didn’t know to look out for weapons, like bats, that might be in some of the hands of the drunk men around him. Actually little occurred to Regency other than the idea of kicking some butt. A man behind Regency swung his bat at Regency’s head. BAM!

Everything stopped. Regency saw stars for a second. The drunks stood there. Regency shook away the stars and shrugged off the hit. “That’s the best you got? Call me when you got game!” And Regency skated off to the shock and open mouths of the drunk drunks. “ I AM AWESOME!” he cheered!

2 blocks later he found Madame I Ogli. A blind man could have spotted her. Her idea of incognito consisted of pink moo-moo and Mary Poppins’ hat. Regency came to a halt and eyed her, “we are supposed to be blending in.”
“Well I am biking through the arts district!” Madame explained, “Don’t worry dear, one of my totem animals is a chameleon.”
“in a Disney movie?”
“Time presses. Crystal please?” Madame held out her hand. For a second Regency thought he should just take it the rest of the way. He was after all awesome! He knew he could do it!
“Stick to the plan little man.” Madame insulted, “You aren’t so fortified as to offend the esprit de Madame!”

Regency squared off to her. He could SO take her! His shoulders flexed. His knuckle tightened. His eyes became slits. “get out of my way hag.”

Madame lowered her voice, “Dear. You are under a spell that makes you think you are more than you are. Are you really ready to fight me here in the middle of downtown LA for no reason? Are you aware of what Corey will do to you if, in your arrogance, you lose any more valuable time? And lastly, if you really want to be beaten up by a dragqueen, can we do it when ghouls aren’t chasing us?”

Regency snapped out of it, “Sorry. Here,” He handed her the crystal suddenly aware that was bullying her. “…really sorry.”
“I know dear. Ta-ta. See you at the rendezvous. Now head back to greyhound. Regency! Go.” And she biked away.

Regency started skating to his false trail at the greyhound bus terminal. His head swirled. What happened? He actually wanted to hit Madame. Why? So the juices were pumped, and after the drunks he was certainly even more pumped, but why not trust Madame? Was it her peculiar-ness that made him, or him on testosterone, hate her so much. Some mad herd mentality? A mentality he had been harmed by in the past? Is that what bullies felt? A rush? Power? Is this what being macho feels like? It’s crazy!

Regency was in his head instead of headed with purpose, as he should be. He saw the Ford down the street and watched it pass him! It went right by. The huge ugly guy in the seat barely noticed him. DAMN! They were onto the relay! And Regency hadn’t been acting the part. They knew he was acting too calm to be carrying a bomb! They had gone right by!

Regency, in far too bold a move, jumped on his board and pushed with all his might. He caught up with the car and grabbed the back antenna screaming, “Come and get some! You’re dead! I’ll kill you!”

He pounded the back of the car. He needed to slow these guys down! “Somebody call the cops!” he yelled. The Gübers hit the brakes and Regency went flying towards an alley. A ghoul guy jumped out of the passenger side and opened fire.

Regency threw his skateboard at the ghoul and beat it down the alley and behind a dumpster. He sat there shaking, “guns! I thought we said no guns!” He sat terrified listening for footsteps. Terrified if they didn’t come after him they’d get a jump-start on Madame. This was all his fault. He deserved a bullet in the head. “Good enough day to die as any!” he grunted as he ran back out of the alley!

He caught the last glimpse of the Ford as it hurtled down the street. His skateboard smashed in two sat at his feet. He thought about breaking into a car and running interference to buy Madame more time. He quickly realized he had no idea how to steal a car. He was out of ideas.

Regency brought out his cell, “They’re on to us. Crazy Purple Head may be in trouble. I want to go on record that Fortification spells SUCK!”

Crystal Visions 5

“Man, I wanna to be Mr. Pink,” regency added to the discussion.
“No one wants to be Mr. Pink. That’s the point of Mr. Pink,” scolded Madame.
“Which is why I want it!”
Demilla huffed, “ You’re not Mr. Pink. You’re Leg 2.”
“I’m never gunna remember that!” Regency wouldn’t let it go. Cool code names was the best part of an OP.
Obviously Madame concurred, “That makes me Leg 3 and I think that’s sexist. ‘Oh the third leg of Madame!’ It’s offensive!”
“Well,” Regency was on a roll, “we could call you Crazy Purple Head! If the wig fits…”
“What a great idea,” bantered Madame, “we can all be named for our hair styles. Barbara is Blondie. Corey Baldy and you can be Thinning!”

Corey and Demilla rolled their eyes. Regency opened his mouth. Stopped. Thought about it, then confessed, “That was good. You can have it.”
“NO ONE IS HAVING SILLY NAMES! This is serious. What is with you guys tonight!” Demilla was not having it. “Leg 1 ,2,3,4,” she pointed at herself, Regency, Madame and Corey respectively, “that way we’ll remember the order. It’s simple!”

Corey chimed in, “maybe we should come up with code names. Like permanently. We use the walkies more and….” Demilla eyed him. Corey gulped, “but not now. No time. As Leg 4 I say we move on to other more important details. Madame think of Leg 3 like a third eye…only lower….and bigger?….longer?”

Regency laughed Madame hissed, “You’re not helping.”
Regency snorted, “Trust me no one wants to think about you and a third anything…if it’s even….”
“I’m quite sure I am man enough for the endeavor!” she barked.
“What is that supposed to mean?” Demilla glared.
“Oh no.” Corey sighed and sat down, physically leaving the conversation.

Madame sighed too but with purpose, “Oh Barbara you know what I mean!”
“It’s cool. You’re more of man than we are.” Regency should not have said.
“I am not a man!” Barbara’s shoulders were raising, “strength and courage is not solely a male quality. And if you make some dyke power joke right now I’ll slug you.”
“See,” Regency just had to add, “That’s what dudes do.”
“So women stay home and have babies or should not stand up for themselves?”
“So gender has no bearing on status? That’s ridiculous and you’re often the first to insist that I am not up to…”
“STOP!” Corey re-entered the fray, “It’s the fortitude you guys…and gals. Everyone here regardless or because of gender is a powerful individual or else we wouldn’t be such an amazing team. OK? No more discussing code names, no more discussing the politics of gender.”
“Sorry.” “ok yes I didn’t mean to jump…” “forgive dears.”

“Now what I do want to discuss, now that we’re physically more prepared, is spiritual assault. Madame you specifically.” Corey commanded the room.
“Me?” Madame was in no mood to be commanded, “Et tu Corey? I am hardly helpless!”
“You kind of are,” Corey said gently, “your best defense is the spirit world. Ghouls are dead, or were dead, they might be able to control any spirit you raise to fight.”
Madame shocked for a moment then covered, “I am quite sure I can out class a ghoul.”
Demilla, also gently, added, “but these aren’t everyday ghouls. They’re Über Ghoulin if you’re wrong, or they’re stronger, your spirits could
….become subservient to the ghoul and turn on you…or anyone.”

Madame was quiet. Corey took the opportunity to explain a little ghoul 101 to the group. It’s very confusing. Apparently ghouls were once humans who died. The common ghoul is kind of dumb just hungry. Apparently it depends who you were and how you changed. Lots of factors factoring in.”

“So ghoul is like ghost. They can range from a slight ineffectual cold draft to a super powerful necromancer….”
Regency’s jaw dropped, “A super powerful necromancer! I wanna see that!”
“NO. You don’t.” three voices sounded off simultaneously.

It also became clear that different ghouls have different levels of magick (if any). So there was no way to know if the ghoul you were facing was capable of casting spells, or worse, shielding spells. The only definite thing Corey could guarantee is: They are really strong and very difficult to kill. It was better to run.

“These are creatures from The Liminal. Life and Death. And though I doubt they’ll call up spirits in an urban area, they might. So you can’t let spirits loose on them. And even if they don’t have magick, per se, they can try and show you your death….” Corey added.
“…a probably death! Of which I am not afraid!” Madame heard the defensiveness in her voice.
“Madame..”
“Why am I here then Corey? If I’m so helpless?!” Madame could not restrain herself.
“Because I have faith in you. But I want you to be prepared.”

Madame stood up straight, “I have a cross around my neck, silver bullets in a gun at my thigh, dirt from an Aztec grave in my shoe, and many tricks up my sleeves. I am always prepared!”

Crystal Visions 6

“Man, What was I thinking?” Madame chastised herself! She could feel the tug at her tummy. Obviously she was already being tracked. Regency is a baboon and she was going to die and LA blow up because he couldn’t handle a little adrenaline. What a spaz! ‘I should just stop,’ she snapped at herself, ‘just stop and hand it to them. Why not! Stupid crystal. Stupid Demilla and this stupid plan and for that matter stupid Corey. What a jerk face! As if I need extra help! They are so bumming me out!’ Madame wanted to blame the fortitude spell for their child-like behavior but it wasn’t affecting her or anything!

The road more or less split. To the right might be crowded, to the left desolate but easier for them to catch up. The trick Madame mulled was would they try anything in public? Any decent spirit usually left silly human being to their own demise. But these were no ordinary ghouls. She could feel that tug despite her 7 rings of protection. How they got through her defensive magic so fast was what really concerned Madame.

She’d never admit it to Corey, but she had to admit to herself, she had been stubborn at the meeting. She had felt ganged up on and she reacted poorly. Defensively. Perhaps Corey had a better spell that confused Über Ghouls…goobers….she laughed despite the dread.

She took her bike left and peddled like there was no tomorrow, which in this case, is a literal expression. If the ghouls…goobers, were going to throw down she would too. The last time she had accidentally fought a demon in public everyone had thought it was a press stunt for Bewitched. Agnes Morehead parallels do little for one’s ego. In your head you’re a Sith-Ninja to the world you’re Endora.

She heard the Ford before she saw it. Obviously. It was behind her and invisible. The invisible part wasn’t difficult: snap, flick, mutter and she could now see it in her little handle bar mirror. The behind her coming in fast part was…well, more difficult.

She called upon wind to move her faster! It came furiously, breaking branches, and almost knocked her over. Obviously Madame was feeling her Wheaties. “Stupid fortification spell!” she yelled as she dodged a fallen branch.

That’s when Madame realized how childishly she had been behaving. Almost throwing tantrums. The would be frat-boy that took over Regency had manifested as macho-brat in her. “Well if that’s what’s working…. “ Madame sneered and did a pop-wheelie on her bike.

I want to stop and let you picture this for a second: You’re sitting on a bench on desolate street in Downtown Los Angeles. Nothing but wind blowing newspapers. When suddenly a six foot drag queen in a huge purple wig, wearing a moo-moo comes flying by on a single back tire. That might make you find religion.

Madame, however, found a service ramp leading into a warehouse. “perfect,’ she thought. All she had to do was pop the bike up to the ramp. Get some good trajectory. Skid sideways over the bus stop bench. Reverse direction on her bike. Send a spell right in the face of that Ford. They’ll never be expecting that!

As Madame approached the ramp, the Ford accelerated and bumped into the back tire. Madame and the bike went flying through the air. She and her bike landed on the bus stop bench and then thudded onto the sidewalk. She couldn’t breathe. Pain burst in her ribs, luckily the spell meant nothing was broken, but, “ow.” She shook her head aware that she needed to get up but not exactly sure where up was.

The Ford came to a screeching stop. I don’t know if ghouls can laugh but they were certainly not angry. Madame was sprawled out on the ground. The crystal, glowing now, sat a few feet from her. The bike entwined in her legs. Injured. The ghouls walked up to her snarling, not even rushing. Perhaps that’s what gave her the instant she needed.

Madame I Ogli was never one to be taken easily. Her ward came flying out of her purple wig and knocked the two goobers back on their butts. She kicked a foot free and stood up herself and bike. As she reached for the crystal she saw the ghouls rise. Which should not have been possible.

“Oh come on! Stay down!” Madame protested. But the ghouls didn’t obey. They squared off with Madame ready for her next spell. Little did they know, Madame had no idea what would work. That rebound spell should have knocked them out for hours! “Rebound…oh yes rebound..” Madame muttered again. She didn’t let her confidence show. She wanted to act the damsel distress…

The two ghouls chanted something. A dark cloud came at Madame. It looked like pain. It looked like despair. It reeked of death. Madame knew instantly this was the death revealing spell she had been hoping for. She summoned up her deepest power, combined it with the energy of the fortitude spell, added a dash of brat and said in her most annoying voice possible, “ I KNOW YOU ARE BUT WHAT AM I?”

Crystal Visions 7

Man it was getting heated in the gallery. Corey nor Demilla would back down over the slightest detail of the OP.
“But why not?”
“Because!”
“Because why!?!” Corey insisted.
Because ok?!?!” Demilla roared.
“Wow,” snickered Regency, “4th grade much?”
Madame explained, “it’s the fortitude spell. It has a slightly juvenile affect on weaker minds.”
“HEY!”
“Like the force!” Regency said non-ironically.
“Hey!”
“Ok,” Corey calmed, “seriously though, can we at least ask?”
“I did!” Demilla was annoyed…again, “I asked for the magickal phrase which by the way, got me laughed at, and no. No one would give it. Apparently magickal phrases and secret languages and spiritual mutterings are not simply handed out to anyone who asks!”
“BARBARA!” Madame gasped.

A quiet filled the room. Not that long ago Corey, under torture, had revealed a few secrets he should not have. Madame glanced at Corey and then Demilla. Even Regency caught on before Demilla realized she had gone too far. Her wide, confrontational eyes scanned the room then seemed to remember. She looked at the map for a second. Bit her lip and said quietly, “I didn’t mean…I’m sorry.”

“No it’s cool. I know you didn’t mean…anything. We’re all just talking out our fortified butts.” Corey sucked it up, “Besides the magick phrase is probably not something easy like ‘stop glowing you stupid crystal!’ Nah the guardians would make it something weird. Some ancient language meaning zebras stripes eat gorilla or something stupid! Everything we do has to be made so damn difficult.”

“Right!” Demilla laughed.
“that’s magick for ya” Madame chuckled. Camaraderie in the face of awkwardness is always a safe bet.
“I’ve been saying that since I joined this pack of misfit mages!” Regency laughed. They were a team again. Funny how that works.

Another pause.

“SO,” Corey broke the silence and let everyone know he wasn’t hurt, “ we have a plan! We even have maps and cell phones and cool black clothes….except for those of us in power moo-moos. I think we got this!”

“You’re going to have to run like hell Corey.” Demilla was still be careful with her words, “by the time you get it…..”
“It’ll be all nice and glow-y and tracked by anyone with eyes. Or ears? Do think it’ll hum. I hate that.” Corey shrugged.
“Oh I love a nice crystal sound bath!” Madame relieved some pleasurable experience on her face, which made everyone uncomfortable.

“So it’s going to glow and hum on the last leg?” Regency clarified, “boss you’re screwed!”
“Well there’ll be three of me so hopefully I can run faster than an Über Ghoul! How will I know…” Corey asked Demilla.
“Track 15. I think you’ll know her. I think it’s a her, but who ever it is, will be equally drawn to the crystal as the bad guys.” Demilla explained.

“Corey!” Madame had a new idea, “Let me give you a luck spell!”
“NO!” Corey backed away from her and her purse, “last time you did that I was hit on by every guy in the restaurant. I was almost dragged into the bathroom by the sous-chef!”
“Was he hot?” Regency couldn’t help himself.
“Not that kind of luck…” Madame couldn’t decide if she thought it was funny or not.
“Corey doesn’t need luck.” Demilla slapped his back, “he can take those creeps.” Corey wasn’t sure if she was over compensating for the accidental dig, but he took the compliment.

“I hope so,” Corey did the Corey-thing, “this isn’t going to be easy. I don’t want any heroics. Just follow the plan. If you start feeling confrontational it’s just the fortification spell. Ignore it and stay on task. We’re flight NOT fight! Everybody ready?”

Nods filled the room. Madame questioned, “are we rendezvous-ing or debriefing tomorrow?”
“Oh let’s beer after!” Demilla nodded.
“Akbar?” Corey shrugged.
“Excellent!” Madame loved an excellent martini.
“Cool.” Regency agreed but then had new idea, “…so Akbar on a Sunday night. Sounds fun…umm Madame? Can I have some of that Luck Spell? It’ been a while since I was dragged into a bathroom.”

Everyone laughed except Regency who was dead serious.

Crystal Visions 8

Man, Madame was late. Corey was pumped and furious. Why wasn’t she calling? He thought about trying to find her or head in her direction but that was a bad idea. What if she had been forced to take a longer route, they’d pass each other and loose time. Valuable time. What if…No. he would no think that. Madame was fine. She was just late.

His cell peeped. It was apparently in walkie mode although Corey didn’t remember switching it over.
“Leg 4 go” he said.
“I’m following up. No sign of Leg 3?” Demilla’s voice sounded nervous. They were well past the 2 hour mark.
“NO. The city hasn’t gone boom so she’s alright.”
“Corey….”
“She’s alright damn it!” Corey hissed. “Sorry.”
“No you’re right,” Demilla calmed him, “She’s fine. But what if the Gübers got it. They might just portal out of here or fly or…”
“ah portal-ing why didn’t we do that!” Corey was grasping.
“You know why. It’s unstable.”

“I know,” Corey’s fear scared him. “I’m going to try and link onto her. I won’t use too much energy, just enough to see…ya know…”
“Ok. I’ll keep sweeping…let me know.” Demilla signed off.

Corey felt the Earth beneath his feet. He pictured Madame in his mind. A sight that usually brought him a smile. Not tonight. He tried to hear her voice….

“Cooooorey!!!!!” he heard her voice. Wow that was fast. “COREY!” Corey looked up and saw a haggard Madame I Ogli peddling as fast as she could towards him. Something was wrong. He ran towards her!

“Are you alright?!” He begged, “why didn’t you call?”
“Yes. No but I’ll heal. I lost my bag. Here,” she thrust the crystal into his. It was glowing brightly and it was warm. “We don’t have much time. They’re right behind me. I made them relive their own demises. It bought me like 3 minutes. People die so quickly! Run Corey! Run!”
“Here,” he threw her his cell phone, “everyone’s worried. Buy me some time if you can!” and he sprinted away.

In the not distant enough, tires squealed. Madame ignored her jaw and ribs. She called upon her most tough old broad-ness and dropped one knee to the ground. From under her thigh she pulled a small pistol. It would be a waste of silver bullets but they were replaceable. Corey and LA were not.

She held the gun still. Corey’s walkie beeped “Corey are you there? What’s happening?”
“Hold please,” said Madame to no one.
“Corey come in!”
“Just a second….” scolded Madame again, not letting go of the gun, so not said into the phone. She was not going to miss this shot.

The Ford swung down the boulevard. Union Station wasn’t terribly far but much further by foot than car. It came towards her. She tilted her head. Exhaled. She waited. Waited. The Ford went by her. Slowly she targeted the three points that would bring down any beast. She didn’t pull the trigger like an amateur. She slowly brought her finger back squeezing three times. One to the back of the head, the driver’s. Second to the stomach or in this case the gas tank. Third to the foot or tire.

The driver lunged forward. Definitely not dead but come on, it had a to hurt. The gas tank did not ignite but started a leak perhaps enough perhaps not. But the tire had done the trick. It went flying in the opposite direction. The car spun to a halt and the ghouls got out. One, with the head trauma, ran towards Madame.

She laughed “come and get me!” But the other ghoul grabbed the first one’s arm and they both ran toward Union Station.

“For God’s sake Corey say something!” Demilla in the cell phone yelled.
“Hello Barbara dear!” Madame laughed, “Corey’s a bit too busy running. How are you?”

The crystal burned Corey’s hands. It was getting hotter. How long would he be able to hold it? Did fortification work against heat? He didn’t know. He didn’t know where the ghouls were but the tug at his gut told him they had locked on to him. Corey dug his heels in harder as he continued his chant for the Earth to propel him and renew his breath.

Finally he saw Union Station. A great well-lit beckon, this would all be over soon. The crystal’s hum became audible. Like swarm of bees. Traffic blurred on Alameda. The tug tugged harder. The light glowed brighter. The hum rang louder. He would have to run through traffic and then he saw the problem. Cops.

How was he supposed to run into Union Station carrying a buzzing, glowing sphere without looking like a terrorist! He didn’t have time to get all invisible and besides that would make his splitting spell useless. A diversion! He could blow up a car and…no then they’d shut down the trains and the guardian would be stuck as the ghouls took their sweet time searching. Time! This was taking valuable time! He needed a plan with no time to plan. Then he saw the limo waiting. He got a thoroughly LA idea.

The driver of the limo was chatting with some other less-nice-car-drivers. Corey rushed the traffic, crossed the street and hunkered down. He quickly rushed behind cars in the parking lot in front of the station. He shoved the crystal into his underwear. He tried not to laugh. Luckily the black denim was hiding the bright light. Unfortunately the burning and humming weren’t doing a lot for his little-Corey.

“Come on!” Corey whispered. Almost as a command, the driver turned his head away, he and his cohorts laughing at something in the distance. Corey bolted! He cracked open the passenger door, then crawled over back seat and flew open the opposite door of the limo right in front of one of LAPD’s finest.

The cop jumped back. Corey slammed the door closed, “excuse me! Do you know who I AM!” The officer rolled his eyes and mockingly stepped out of Corey’s way, “I’d better not miss my train!” Before the officer could stop and realize celebrities don’t take trains in LA, Corey stormed into station like a grown-up mouseketeer at a velvet roped gala.

It actually worked. Corey would have been trying not to laugh but the burning was …well…burning. He ducked behind the information booth. He couldn’t actually see the ghouls. He never needed to see invisible things. He knew where they were. They had followed and were in the room scanning for him. He held his breath, thought the incantation, got an incredible headache and suddenly there were three of him. Each with a trackable crystal codpiece.

On a mental command one of him, ley’s say A Corey, ran left. He heard a scuttle and then B Corey ran right. The real Corey waited. Footsteps stopped. Some odd language spoke, ghoul? maybe? And then he sensed footsteps taking off in two directions. “Ha ha stupid ghouls!” Corey counted to three and ran straight to Track 15.

The burning in his pants started to really hurt but he was afraid to pull out a glowing orb and cause mayhem. He breathed loudly and went up the ramp. On the platform he saw the old woman. To the untrained eye she could look like any housewife from Pasadena. But Corey could tell: the amulets were real, the aura too powerful and then there was the lack of plastic surgery to be human. Corey and she made eye contact. 20 feet from delivery Corey went down!

Obviously a ghoul had caught up to A or B Corey and he had been flung into a wall. The real Corey didn’t move laterally just collapsed. He could feel the pain: it was happening to him. But he couldn’t tell his second selves to fight out side of visual contact. He could just feel the agony as a third of him was pummeled.

The Pasadena-esque woman came to Corey and lifted his head, bleeding nose and all, as Corey felt a kick to the gut. He would have collapsed again but the old woman, in stylish yet sensible shoes, held him firm. Man she had strong arms. She lifted him with one hand under the chin and with the other reached down his pants.

Like in front of everyone!

She stood there staring at him with a slight smile, “pull yourself together. There’s only a third of it here.”

Corey wanted to crack a joke like ‘I thought size doesn’t matter’ but he was in too much pain and kind of embarrassed by the on lookers laughing at this weird couple having public foreplay.

He un-said the words and A and B him disappeared and Corey tripled in pain and agony. Corey wished he cold have seen the ghouls’ faces when they realized they had been pranked.

Lady in beige wrapped her hand around the crystal and spoke the magical phrase, “Apagate cristal!” As she whipped out his crystal (ha ha) it went dark, cool and stopped humming. It was turned off. Everything would be fine. LA was safe. Corey wanted to punch her in the face.

“Crystal Off in Spanish is the command! Seriously?” Corey fumed. Without a thank-you thae woman dropped him back to his knees and boarded the train. Corey fumed more. A cop came over and asked him if he was alright? Or drunk? “Not yet, officer,” Corey bloodied and battered managed to stand and leave the station even fumier.

Crystal Visions 9

Man, Corey was late. Demilla was at the bar furious Corey had given his phone to Madame. Madame was quietly chanting in the corner trying to “call” Corey mentally. Regency was walking between the two asking annoying questions. “well what if…”

“Regency! Stop asking me the same four questions.” Demilla was torn between annoyed angry and upset, “I do NOT know. I sent a squad car down and they haven’t seen anything. I say we wait a few more minutes and then we go looking for him.”
“But what if he comes here?”
“I’m sure Forrest can tell him to call us.” Demilla smiled at Forrest, the bartender. They were sort of friends, in a public way, but Forrest, like almost everyone, didn’t know what they all actually were. But Demilla had a feeling he suspected something. Bartenders just know.

Akbar is a small neighborhood bar in Silver Lake. It’s fun and ranges from quiet hang to long entry line hotspot on disco nights. It’s mostly gay and gay-friendly with the occasional straight and straight-friendly parties. Sundays are pretty chill with Forrest the bartender, keeping it bright and not too loud. It’s not far from Union Station. Corey should have made the trip in 15 minutes easy. An hour had gone by.

None of them were drinking. Not even water. It might have been camaraderie but it felt more like waiting for the bride to arrive.

“Anything?” Regency asked Madame.
“Remember last time you asked that two minutes ago and I said I can’t do anything if I keep getting interrupted?” Madame glared.
“…yea…” Regency returned the glare blankly.
“Dear you are still interrupting me!”
“Oh come ON!” Regency yelled, “it’s been two minutes! What the use of magick if it takes forever!”
“Lower your voice.” Demilla said so calmly Regency shuttered.
“Sorry…I’m worried.”
“We all are.” Demilla needed to do something, anything, “Ok we spilt up. I’ll go to the station. Madame grab a cab and start where Corey and you spilt up. Regency stay here for 5 minutes and then start heading to Union Station…”

“Oh thank goddess he’s here!” Madame jumped up and ran to the open door as a battered Corey appeared. Her hug almost crippled him. He gently pushed her away.
“I’m ok. Just a few cracks,” he smiled, “I’ll be fine. I had to walk. LA really should have kept a payphone or two.”

There was a moment of silence. Regency flung himself down on a bar seat, “I wasn’t cut out for this!” Tiny tears filled his eyes.
“I’m fine. Look!” Corey jumped up and down in an odd little dance.
“The fact that you can’t dance doesn’t make me feel better.” Regency laughed.
“So we’re all still here,” Demilla said quietly, “you got to the drop off ok?”
“Yes. They were right behind me but I found her…you’ll never guess what the secret phrase to stop the crystal for going boom was…” Corey paused for dramatic effect, “Apagate cristal, crystal off in Spanish!”
“Shut up!” “What a bitch” “Seriously?”

They all laughed and, on Corey’s cue, they all bellied up took a stool. Their laughter was still going, a bit quieter, more mumbling, when Forrest came over, “They were waiting for you. What do you guys want?”

“Whiskey. 4. Back ‘em up.”

Forrest pulled four pints of tap and topped off four Makers Mark shots one in front of each. Demilla slid a credit card down. Oddly as each touched the shot, they froze. Hair on the back of their necks stood. Maybe a breeze from the open door carried the foul stench to their awareness. Or maybe they just knew. Frozen like statues they sort of eyed each other. The ghouls had entered Akbar.

Corey smiled, “Anyone up for a little recon?”
“Oh my yes.” “With pleasure.” “Wicca please!”

The all slammed their shots.
“Hey Forrest!” Corey called, “Four more please.”

Corey said a quick word and the lights went out. The four of them turned on the ghouls. In action movies fights are really loud. In truth they are not. Yes, fist hitting flesh makes a thud or knuckles pop, but they aren’t actually loud. As well, magick can be completely silent when warranted. So it wasn’t odd that the crowd or bartender didn’t react to the throw-down happening in front of them.

The music continued and the few patrons were hooting and laughing like frat boys trying to cope a feel. Even in the backlight the open door provided, you couldn’t make out what was actually happening. It just looked like someone dancing weirdly or being silly in the darkness.

The four knew they couldn’t kill the ghouls. They didn’t need to. This was more fun. A night’s frustration and angst was taken out the old fashioned way. A bar brawl.

Finally the ghouls went down. Hard. They considered creating a portal to transport them away…anywhere away, but that seemed like too much work. And besides there were things to be done: like drinking the next round of whiskey. At the end, Corey and Madame pitched the two invisible unconscious ghouls onto Sunset Boulevard. They could be run over by busses all night for all they cared.

Silently they returned to the bar. Corey turned the lights on. The four saddled up. Forrest, a bit confused and sure to report an electrical problem to the boss, grabbed the bottle and refueled them.

“Anyone’s fortification spell still ticking?” Corey asked politely.
“No I rode that out.” “Barely even affected me.” “I don’t think it worked.”

“Yea, me too,” Corey half smiled, “So we saved LA. What do you guys wanna do now?”
Demilla bit her lip and ever-so-slightly blushed. A light bulb popped on over Madame’s purple head as she smiled seductively. Regency gulped and scanned the room. His eyes fell on a bearded hottie sitting alone.
Corey finished his smile, “Yea, me too.”