Part 3: Revelations
It was still early afternoon on Monday February 8th, 2010. Jasmine, Miles, and Vinnie decided to let the two idiot gangbangers go and resume their investigation back in Peoria. The situation was rapidly turning into a series of dead-ends (some literally), but a couple bits of key information remained. There was something going on at Stevenson Construction, and they knew where Ricardo was hiding out. The team decided to get a good night’s rest for once and thin hit up the offices of Stevenson Construction in the middle of the night.
Breaking into the office was easy. The front section was mostly for appearances, the back clearly for the more important engineering and design work. Vinnie hexed the security cameras and Miles picked the lock on the rear security door. Once inside, the wardens did a thorough search. The place was legitimate. No signs of hidden rooms or secret storage areas. Looking around it was clear that this firm had done a number of jobs in the area over the last twenty or thirty years. Most of the work was focused on city planning and setting up utilities and framework for the building of new subdivisions, suburbs, and city expansion. They did involve themselves in some actual work, but typically the early stages of construction: digging utility trenches, pouring in foundations, etc. They worked closely with the city and the major home builders (such as KB).
Jasmine noticed something awry with one of the desks, where one of the engineers (a Mike Seals) seemed… odd. Miles used his oneromancy to learn more from the work space and Vinnie continued searching for unusual signs in the area. Vinnie noticed that while all the locks were similar in the office (normal for a place like that), there was a different lock on Seals’ desk. Miles magical divination revealed that the owner of the desk experienced a life transition about 12-15 years ago. In that time he went from loving his wife, to getting bored, to loving someone else, to not caring at all about his wife. Breaking into the desk, Vinnie and Miles found a series of engineering notebooks and an early draft of the plans for an East Peoria Subdivision from 12 years ago. An analysis of the layouts (and comparison to the final drafts on file) indicated that Seals was looking for a way to hide the cost of digging an additional large trench along the southwest and western border of the subdivision.
After taking a note of the plans location, the wizards decided to loot Seals’ desk and leave a note “WE KNOW”, with a phone number for Clauson’s voice mail, hoping it would provoke a response. Leaving the office, the team decided to finish a good night’s rest and headed back to the hotel.
The next morning, the news was all about a gangland fight on the north side the previous day. The news implied the police had either played down the level of violence (and wealth of the gang) or that someone had gotten to the crime scene and made some of the scarier evidence disappear. Veronica called in with an update. It turns out that most of the money being funneled to the kid (Jeff) was through a charity called the McReidy Foundation. The kid had jobs at both Stevenson Construction and Harrison and Sons Contractors over the last few years, but nothing steady. His income was essentially a “gift”. A further search revealed about a dozen other individuals like the kid receiving money, with minimal helpful identification.
After breakfast, the wizards decided to play Ricardo a visit. He was staying at his Aunt’s house as expected. Miles attempted to fool his way in, but the Aunt was a little guarded – even with his story. Jasmine, on the other hand, managed to fool the Aunt into thinking she was “Maricella”, Ricardo’s girlfriend. Once inside, the situation was quickly in hand. Ricardo acted tough, and his Aunt was definitely frightened and angry. The interrogation didn’t actually require anything severe – Ricardo was still injured from the previous day and caught off-guard. He sold out his entire gang in five minutes. He gave likely locations for all the senior members: Billy, Eric, and Abdul. He even fingered Abdul for the murder of the Warden Clauson – claimed they’d gambled for the right to do the job.
From the conversation it became clear Ricardo was a psychopath. He wanted out alive, and wanted to be in charge of the gang. He feared Billy enough not to go after him directly. He had nothing but contempt for Eric – calling him “weak” (implying Eric might have some morals). The only reason he hadn’t killed Eric long ago was that Billy would have killed him for it. Abdul was no real threat until Billy and Eric were out of the way – then he was competition. Ricardo clearly hoped that the wizards would simply kill all three of them and he’d walk into running the gang like it was Christmas day. When asked about his strange powers, Ricardo refused to rat out whoever was giving Billy orders. Ricardo knew that orders came from outside to Billy, and most of those jobs got done by Billy, Eric, himself, and Abdul. He didn’t know about the rituals, or the location of the house. He was truly scared of whoever gave him his powers and wouldn’t speak about it at all. Eventually, the wizards left – knowing they’d have to deal with Ricardo again eventually –but for now he was no longer a threat. It was off to pay a visit to Billy.
Billy Thompson’s house was a small fortress. The windows and doors were well built, and there were signs of good security. There was no supernatural defense, but the place clearly had a decent threshold. Storming inside from the rear, the wizards quickly captured a young man and two women. Inside the house they found records, as well as cache’s of legal and very illegal weapons. They waited inside for Billy’s return.
It took a few hours, but eventually a well built SUV pulled into the driveway. Hidden inside the house, the wizards waited as two men approached the rear entrance. As soon as they came into view, Vinnie pounced on the man who was obviously not Billy and pummeled him and tossed him inside the house, stunning him. Miles charged outside and shot Billy, wounding him. Billy returned fire on Miles –aiming for the head. It was clear Billy also had some supernatural benefits as he moved with superhuman speed and accuracy, quickly getting inside. Miles threw up a defensive ward and Jasmine used her knife to hit Billy’s stunned ally. Vinnie then moved inside and pummeled Billy as well. Lying on the ground, Billy threw a knife at Vinnie – coated with some form of primitive magical poison. Thankfully, it had no effect on Vinnie and he then knocked Billy out. At this time Jasmine stabbed the other man only to find out the hard way he was some form of sorcerer. His death curse burst into the room, seriously injuring her while she called up a defensive ward to deflect some of the blast.
After the fight, the wizards took Billy to the burned out freight car for interrogation. Miles did an aura sight on him and learned (to his surprise) that Billy had no soul. Using the Sight, the wizards saw that Billy had the same silver cord stretching off into the distance and turning oily black. He looked like a man weighed down by his own power and money and desperately reaching for more of it. Billy wouldn’t talk. Threats and trickery didn’t motivate him to speak – Vinnie reasoned that he must have sold his soul – probably for power and money (which explains why he was able to run a mostly Hispanic gang).
At a loss on where to go with the interrogation, Jasmine decided to summon up Malach, a winter court retainer of hers, to see if he could offer any insight. The fey (for the price of many many white mice) confirmed that the man had sold his soul for power. He also confirmed that it was sold to whoever runs things in Peoria, though the creature did not know who that was. That question got “barked up the chain of command” and Malach was able to negotiate a deal: Billy and the right to run his gang in exchange for the name of who was running things in the city. Instantly, a Fey lord appeared taking Billy into his grasp. He turned to the wizards and said one word: “Mephistopheles”. Then he disappeared, with his laughter echoing across the chill winter afternoon.
The Wizards were clearly taken aback at the identity of their (clearly very dangerous) opponent. They researched what they could about him/it and what they found wasn’t promising. Mephistopheles was one of the Fallen, but not a Denarian. As a Fallen (and Outsider) he cannot directly take action in the world, but must work through intermediaries – or possess a human host. Centuries ago, a powerful wizard named Faust summoned Mephistopheles and attempted to outwit him in order to gain more power. In the end, Mephistopheles “won”, gaining a powerful foothold into the real world. This is the reason the Seventh Law exists – it’s simply too dangerous to deal with such creatures.
Since the 16th century, Mephistopheles has appeared rarely. The White Council believes he may have been responsible for WW1 (having organized the political events in the late 19th century such that the war was inevitable). To what end, no one is certain. It is known that a large scale violent act (like a World War) is fuel to the fallen – but to all of them. Mephistopheles is not a “team player”, and would try to hoard power for himself. He is known for trading for the souls of mortals – to what ends no one is sure. It is known that those souls give him power of some sort. He is very patient, capable of waiting decades for a plan to mature (as are most of the more intelligent of the Fallen). Since he negotiates directly for souls, and rarely bothers to simply corrupt anyone, the Knights of the Cross are not charged with dealing with him. He is a loophole in their own system.