Downtown Pasadena, California
Nov 5th, 2010
A few months before the excursion into Wonderland, another event was taking place across the United Thelemic States, far away from Wisconsin. (There had been no mention of America since the early 1960s…the world belonged to her new masters, and if they could not change the people’s minds, they would change the people’s names for places, and begin to exert their Will for the slaves in a more gradual fashion.) Pasadena was the home of the Father of the Thelemic Space Program, and the man who loved an aspect of Babalon herself…Jack Parsons. Parsons had died many years ago, in a suspicious accident during the post-Second Great War turmoil of the 1950s, as the world righted itself. It was suspected that he had been murdered by forces loyal to Roosevelt and Churchill, who had somehow gotten wind of what was really going on and acted without the authorization of their leaders (in name only…the figureheads of the War had been involved in the government until their deaths, but with decreasing power).
This had been a disaster for Thelemic leadership, for the Agape Lodge located in Pasadena, and for the Thelemic spaceflight endeavors, which had been forced to rely on German scientists who had defected to the American government during the latter years of the war. But the two-edged sword of Freedom, which Jack Parsons had fought for and which he had obtained, lived on here in Pasadena…today, a general occult convention was being celebrated outdoors, with open attendance for any sect, any creed, any practice. Even the dreaded chaos mages were permitted to walk freely on the spacious grounds of the Agape Lodge, a few miles outside of town.
Therefore, of course, everything being permitted, everything was done with gusto. The chaotes crashed the party at high noon, bringing Throbbing Gristle music – loud, noisy, transgressive industrial – and plenty of drugs. There were a few experimental concoctions that the Kingdom of Man was still debating the health effects and psychedelic merits of, and they were passed out to anyone who looked interested. Chaos began to reign, made worse by the 2:30 PM invocation of Eris on the main concourse. There was no rioting, though…but there were riotous bursts of joy, activity, and wonder…for a while it looked as if the stuffy Thelemites might be forced to do magic at their magical festival. Then the Doomchain Linker started showing up on the walls in spray paint…
Agape Lodge Parsons Festival
Lake Johnson grinned, running a hand through his shoulder-length blond hair. He’d come here with a few buds for a good time, to meet a few magically minded people and enjoy the evening…there’d been some good music, a little food, and some mischief with those Linkers just a few minutes ago. The place was like a giant Sabbat, now…chaos and madness and riotous sex, drugs, rock and roll! Just the kind of atmosphere he loved. Kryssy was on his right, back against the stone fountain in the center of the concourse – a Chaos Thelemite, as she called herself, she was not fond of the disorganized chaos. She always claimed she preferred “chaos theory chaos” – ordered, complex chaos, not broad-brush Joker glee. “Why so serious”, indeed? Her slightly bluish hair ran against the grain just a little bit – it wasn’t like she was normal. And damn…she had a nice figure for a lame pink.
Jason was left of him, looking longingly toward the fire pit where a pig was being roasted in a panoply of delicious smells. It had everything but the apple in its mouth, and he was getting hungry. Maybe a little hot sauce on top of it…mmm yeah. Lake tapped him on the shoulder, shocking him out of his reverie. “What’s up, Lake?”
Lake rolled his eyes. “Is that all you ever think about, man? What you can eat?”
“No way, man. Sometimes I think about sex…and a lot of the time I ponder the Hermetic Mysteries.” Jason adjusted his glasses, then moved his baseball cap to block out the sun. It was too hot out here.
Lake sighed. “Oh yeah…I forgot. You’re the one Thelly we still hang out with. What do you think, man? Is our chaos worth something more than all this dead magic? Once it rules the world it’s pretty much too mainstream to be useful, right?”
Jason shook his head. “Hell no. Rock and roll rules the world, too, but you don’t see that stopping people like Genesis P-Orridge or the Marauders. Or even Beefsteak and the Mages…surf-psych is awesome, man.”
Lake waved a hand dismissively. “Those are chaos mages in all those bands…except that Beefsteak dude. Never heard of him.”
Kryssy spoke up. “That’s because you’re too underground, dumb nuts. They’re one of the most innovative bands on a major record label – and they’re Thelemic to the core.”
Lake sighed. “Whatever. I’m not here to argue music, man…I’m here to have a good time. Wanna go spray up some more Linkers?”
Jason shook his head. “That Linker madness is your baby. I’m not gonna have anything to do with it.”
Kryssy nodded. “Me neither…with the Eris invocation there’s already enough going on. It’s not worth the risk of tagging all over one of the HTKM’s holy sites.”
“Yeah well…whatever.” Lake shook his head sadly. “You guys really suck.”
“We’re glad you think that way about us, bro.” Jason looked rather hurt.
“He doesn’t mean it, Jason.” Kryssy looked from slightly nerdy Jason to surfer-shallow Lake and made “tsk, tsk” noises. “What am I gonna do with you two? I mean…besides keep you from death cursing each other…not that Lake would be able to defend himself.”
Lake grinned. “I have a few suggestions…”
Kryssy playfully slapped Lake. “Hell no. Find someone your own mental size.”
“Well okay then…” Lake shook his head. “Are we gonna go do something or stand here all day?”
Jason smiled. “Well, I hear Beefsteak and the Mages are gonna be putting on a show in ten minutes, down by the south lawn?”
Kryssy nodded vigorously. “That sounds like fun!”
Lake looked rather sullen for a moment, then replied. “Well I’m not a surfer, but I can put up with it. Let’s go.” He took off in a generally southerly direction, looking from one of them to the other.
“You guys coming or not?” They took off running, laughing a little…nearly bowling over a large group of gawking pedestrians on their way. Chaos indeed reigned in Pasadena.
* * * * *
The concert was going pretty well for the first half-hour. Lake was already high on something…typical, Kryssy thought, as she did a personally modified version of the Twist to one of Beefsteak’s more melodic songs. Jason just stood there, smiling…it was clear that the group were some of his heroes. People were crowd-surfing over the front rows, hyperactively bouncing off the walls in almost literal fashion…but suddenly things slowed down. The atmosphere was quiet…Beefsteak announced a more psychedelic, almost ambient number.
Lake swore. “Man I didn’t come here to listen to experimental art crap…”
“Yeah well I did!” Jason looked at Lake angrily. “You wanna make something of it?”
Kryssy stepped between the two, arms out. “You both want to go home, it sounds like.”
“Hell no I don’t…I want to do something worthwhile.” Lake’s eyes were flashing.
Kryssy wondered just what the hell was wrong with Lake…he’d been angrier lately, more imbalanced. He didn’t seem to be on any meds or reacting to any of his many drugs…and he hadn’t invoked anything, she thought. Maybe he was just being his typical asshole “edgy” self. “Calm down, Lake…I’m sure it’s just one song, okay?”
Jason nodded. “Or you can go take drugs with your loser friends…your call. We thought you’d like this.”
Lake sat on the ground like the majority of the audience. “Fine. I’m chilling, okay?”
Kryssy smiled. “Good boy.”
Lake snarled, wet ground under his butt and steam coming out his ears. The music slowly caught him, mind drifting…he had to admit it wasn’t half bad. Ambient could be a little unique…just wasn’t his style.
Kryssy and Jason drifted off into clouds, riding the music farther than Lake ever could…they were quiet, peaceful, in a reverie of joy. Music didn’t have to be full of growling and screaming and hard guitar to hit your soul like a rushing river…sometimes it could be simple and quiet and change your inner landscape, like the rushing river’s slow erosion.
A female began to sing…it was a few moments before Kryssy realized it was herself. Wordless glossolalia, beauty and joy…and Beefsteak’s guitar was responding to her! Holy macaroni…she’d never had that happen before! The words and the guitar carried the audience to higher planes…even Lake was grooving along. Wonders never cease, Kryssy thought, grinning.
The audience were quiet, somnambulistically drifting into further and further aethyrs from Pasadena. The only sounds were the instruments, Kryssy’s singing, and shallow, relaxed breathing…
And a terrific explosion, coming from the main temple, about a mile down the road. The ground shook…the audience began to get up and move. Beefsteak raised a hand, quietly urging the throng to “play it cool” as the police would be here soon enough, and they would only make matters worse by running around willy-nilly. Somehow – was it the music’s peaceful effect? – the masses stayed still. All except for Lake. He ran off toward the temple, suddenly drifting wide awake and aware…in a sort of altered state, a “danger gnosis”. Kryssy looked after him.
“Lake, where the heck are you going?”
Lake looked back. “Just follow me!”
Jason sighed. “That idiot…okay whatever. Let’s go get ourselves killed, too.” He took off, camaraderie coming before caution, and Kryssy immediately followed. They might be an odd team, but they stuck together…and someone had to save Lake from his own mess. They soon emerged into the grand concourse, the fountain cracked and Babalon Temple reduced to rubble. The finest stone, destroyed in an hour…or even a second. There appeared to be no wounded…likely because they were all dead or at the concert.
Lake supposed that this meant Beefsteak was good for something after all, even if he was a crappy musician…and he wasn’t sure if that was so true, either. It was just sad that the music had been interrupted by such a cataclysm…
“What the hell?” Kryssy looked rather worried. “This isn’t supposed to be happening.”
“Damned chaotes!” Jason growled through clenched teeth, angry eyes scanning the debris. “Too much Eris, too many Linkers…something’s gone wrong.”
“You’re accusing us of being terrorists?” Lake whirled on Jason.
“Not all of you, dumbass…just a few of you. The ones who are most likely to get us all killed by their ill-advised tries at rebellion…who were doubtless attracted by the chaos energy everyone pulled down. Or who started it to begin with.”
“He’s got a point, Lake. You gotta admit that.” Kryssy’s eyes were still wide.
“Yeah…he does.” Lake picked up a rock – a hunk of temple, perhaps – and hurled it at the statue of Babalon on the fountain. She was a little worn from the nearby explosion, but she had survived the damage quite well. Even the fountain she rested on was doing better – water poured from a jug on her shoulder to the fountain and thence to the ground below, wetting the blacktop. “So much for your guardian spirits, huh Jason?”
Kryssy shook her head. “That’s no way to solve the problem. What did you come up here for?”
“To find the bastards who did this and take them out before they get away…” Lake sighed. “DAMMIT!”
Kryssy reached out a hand. “Lake…what’s wrong? Do you know who did this?”
“Yeah…yeah I do, I think.” Lake reached out with his astral senses. A few red dots at the edge of his vision, off a path leading left into the treeline around the temple, betrayed who he was looking for. “Come on!”
Kryssy and Jason followed him at a clip…Jason swore under his breath repeatedly. Kryssy privately worried for everyone’s sanity…she’d never seen their group quite this frazzled. “Are they armed, Lake?”
“Not with anything I can’t take out.” Lake reached down to his belt and pulled out a six-inch hunting knife, blade gleaming in the sun.
Jason looked surprised. “Lake, I thought that was your ritual dagger, man.”
“No one said I only used it for ritual, bro. How the hell you think I’m still alive?”
Kryssy coughed. “We assumed you talked your way out of all those street fights with your sweet disposition.”
Lake waved a hand. “Yeah yeah…freakin’ spare me. We’ve got enough issues right here in River City without worrying about my attitude.”
A quick view from the hill they found themselves on, off the path, down into the forest outside of the temple grounds, revealed that Lake was indeed correct. Figures in black robes, carrying magic staffs of a sort, each staff topped with a red jewel, and with Guy Fawkes masks on their faces (at least what they could see from their current location) strode away from the Agape Lodge grounds, into the deep forest. “Another mile and they’ll be lost in the trees, where the Thelecops can’t get to them. Can I get some illusions, Kryssy?” Lake smiled.
“You sure can.” Kryssy raised her arms, spreading them as she raised energy from the Earth underneath her and shooting it out in front of the robed figures, to give them the illusion of a stone wall on every side.
Jason was generally no good with magic on the run, but he had a few eclectic techniques which he did use on occasion, and some energy work. Charging his solar plexus chakra and loudly vibrating a godname associated with Mars (in other words, speaking the name in a full breath from his diaphragm so that it appeared to resonate throughout the universe), he raised a fist and visualized a beam of light spreading down towards the mad bombers.
Lake grinned. “Yeah.” He waited, burning the thorn rune of the old Norse into his knife blade astrally. It was already engraved on the grip – all he had to do was charge it and he’d have extra power on his side when he went toe to toe with the scumbags.
The masked marauders stopped suddenly, as if they had run into a brick wall. One of them tripped, bashing his head open on a rock. Jason couldn’t help but cheer. Kryssy looked at him in surprise. “That’s really something for a dogma kiddie like you.”
Jason smiled back. “Oh, stuff it. Chaos mage…” He laughed.
Lake raised a hand. “Cut the chatter…we’re going in.” He began a mad dash down the hill toward the terrorists, now fleeing while their comrade bled out.
Kryssy remained silent, still…raising her arms she called on the power of the wind. A rushing gust of air screamed past her, whipping her blue hair about as it sped into the trees, giving Lake a little push and knocking another of his opponents flat. “Two down, three to go.” She grinned, and began to run.
Jason did his manipura beam thing again – they really had to come up with less comic-book cheesy names for these techniques – and vibrated the name of Ra-Hoor-Khuit as loud as he could. The power generated by the conquering war-god of the Aeon threatened to overcome him…he remained standing, directing the beam across two of the remaining enemies. Lake was upon them now, the instrument by which the manipura beam would have its fulfillment, knife ripping and tearing across his prey as his fist laid into the other one’s chin. “You mean three down!” He gave a tremendous war whoop and grinned ferociously.
The masked enemies gave up running now, as one of them fell…out cold. Out of the two that remained, one was suffering from rather large wounds, mainly on his arms and legs…the other was unharmed, and scrapping with Lake, who now found himself double-teamed. The Fawkes wannabes had an iron grip, it seemed…the biggest one was going straight for his knife and trying to wrestle it out of his hand. Lake tried to punch the mook, but was blocked by the other one’s outstretched arm…he was starting to go down.
Kryssy was down in the forest now, holding a rock as big as a baseball in her right hand. She’d have to aim this right…she envisioned the form of Diana, huntress of heaven, merging with her own. Then hounds, to help Lake…and they were ferocious. Not deadly, but astrally nipping at the heels of her enemies. Wounds began to appear on their bodies, and the one who was already bleeding from Lake’s knife began to fall. At this point, she hurled the rock at the remaining enemy.
It arced through the air, time slowing to a crawl as Jason and Kryssy watched. She hoped she didn’t hit Lake…damn damn damn…
Lake tussled with the enemy, punching him in the gut and then stabbing him in the right shoulder. Then on sudden instinct, he dived out of the way…the rock impacted the last enemy’s head with a sudden sickening crunch. Lake grinned, propping himself up on his hands as he rolled to a seated position. “Eat that, suckers!”
Kryssy and Jason made their way through the forest towards Lake, arriving at the mass of fallen, bleeding bodies. Kryssy looked her blond-haired friend in the eye. “You know…you might not be such a bad guy after all.”
“Yeah,” Lake said, laughing. “I did save a bunch of Thelemites, after all…gods know what possessed me.”
Kryssy hugged Lake impulsively. “Yeah…we love you. But you might have some explaining to do…”
The Pasadena police were running down the hill, guns raised…
Jason raised his hands. “Wait – we took these guys out for you!”
The lead cop nodded. “We’ve seen the whole thing. Detective Carter has some things to discuss with you.”
Detective Carter was an altogether unimposing man…he looked like your average man on the street, rather than any badge-wielder whether desk jockey or beat cop. His black hair was in a fairly normal cut of average length, and his wire-frame glasses were immaculately clean. He wore a trench coat and a unicursal hexagram pendant, and his voice was actually rather cordial. “I’m David Carter, Pasadena PD. I work with Agape Lodge and the UTS government on a number of…special projects, in the spirit of what Parsons himself would have done, I think. And in all my years of special-projecting I’ve never seen a better-meshed, more effective squad of combat mages.”
Lake looked at the man. “You’re kidding, right? Combat mages? That’s just what we do for kicks.”
“Yeah.” Carter sighed. “Well naturals or not, I’m here to offer you my thanks for stopping the bombers, and to offer you a job. Fifty thousand coins a year, and bonuses for special missions.” Coins had taken over as the dominant world currency since the Ascent of Man…they were gold, like the coins on a Tarot card but with the star on the back and a portrait of The Beast on their face.
Jason looked at Lake and Kryssy, somewhat shocked. “You guys aren’t gonna turn this down, are you?”
Kryssy considered. “I need to know more about what I’m getting into…can we discuss it over roast pig back at the festival?”
David laughed. “You remind me of a girl I used to know…yes. I’d think that would be acceptable. What about you, Mr. Roberts?”
Lake didn’t bat an eye. “You suits have done your intel, I see. Yeah…I’ll gladly discuss it…over roast pig.” He laughed mirthlessly.
“Somehow I have a feeling you’ll change your tune after we discuss this, Lake.” David smiled. “It’s not like you’d be working for the police, to be frank.”
* * * * * *
After roast pork sandwiches and a decent explanation, Lake agreed to the new job, as did Kryssy and Jason. They would be helping to stop terrorist attacks like the one that had occurred today, and securing the reputation of chaotes so that all of them weren’t tarred with the same epithet as the Guy Fawkes wannabes had been…for some reason, this convinced Lake more easily than it did the others. The possibility of government-sanctioned assassination, noted David, was off the table…they’d be under his direct supervision, and he promised to make sure they didn’t get into anything unethical. They’d also be working with top OTO Special Operations agents, so they had a decent chance of success at any operation they did undertake. It looked like a decent plan for making a few bucks – none of the three friends had a better job offer coming anytime soon, and they were happy to sign on. There were even severance options…any issues dealt with by government black ops agents under the pre-Thelemite governments appeared to have been taken care of entirely. Even Lake was thinking there was something to the Age of Will after all…and he hadn’t been drugged or fascinated. He’d know if he had, he was quite sure.
And so it was that three friends found themselves capable of heroism and made a few bucks out of it…the Misfits were born! The name was Kryssy’s idea – she had to be artsy about everything, and so they were a superhero squad rather than just a government agent team. Soon they would begin their training, at a secret government facility in the Nevada desert. It promised to be an adventure like no other…one full of danger, sure, but they figured they could survive it. They could do anything if they stuck together…because sometimes friends fought, yeah, but then they made up and realized their Wills were intertwined. And those Wills were now bigger than anything they could ever imagine…