The Low Down

And like that, Coop was there in the middle of everything happening. Hunter and Kelli ran back to him. “Are you okay?” they shouted.

“Yeh! I’m fine!” Coop announced. “The Cactus is safe, Hunter. Daniel told me.”

Hunter looked at Kelli, then Coop. For some reason, he believed the man. After all, it had happened before with others.

Gus, Carson, and Allison gave each other odd looks.

"You saw it too, right?" Gus asked her.

"I saw Coop's head go up in green smoke for a brief second if that's what you mean." Allison said.

Gus glanced to Coop. "Maybe we're rubbing off on people? Is The Sight contagious?"

"Whatever that was... well at least we know our friends are okay." Allison said before looking to Jackson and the others and nodding. "Let's go get this son of a bitch."

Jackson took the lead in front of the others. The mayor’s administrative assistant saw the large group arriving and attempted to stop them. “The mayor is in the middle of a very important me...”

Jackson interrupted her, “CIA... we’re here on official business.” Jackson continued on to the mayor’s door and burst through, expecting the mayor to be playing with his putting green.

Much to everyone's surprise, Mayor Don Baker was sitting in the center of a circle with a strange emblems drawn inside of it, of which he had etched into the floor. His desk and the carpet were moved to the side and Baker was chanting something.

To most of the group, he was just sitting in the middle of an empty floor with a crudely etched circle. To those with The Sight, the circle was glowing an eerie green and black and arcs of energy were arcing from the circles to Baker. The Mayor looked up at the group, and to the Sighted his eyes were filled with green and black flames.

"You dare disturb me?" Baker said, his voice was uncomfortably calm and steady. "Don't you know what's coming?"

"We were hoping you'd enlighten us, Mr. Mayor." Freddy said. "You can start with why you tried to have me and Jennifer killed."

Baker stood up and stepped forward.

"That's close enough!" Allison shouted, producing her sidearm and training it on him. "I see what you're doing! The power you're meddling with!"

Baker looked surprised. "How? That is impossible!"

"There's more to us than meets the eye." Gus said.

"I knew that a number of my citizens weren't of this world," Baker said. "But this... this I did not expect. What master do you serve?"

"Uncle Sam!" Allison said. "You're already going down for conspiracy to commit murder, not to mention obstruction for interfering in the search for this young lady's brother."

"But first," Jessica started. "Tell us how to stop these ghosts."

Baker sighed. "There is no stopping them. The seal has been broken. The Mandala is now out of alignment and the souls used to craft it have been taken over by a rage unlike anything we have seen before."

"What're you talking about?" Freddy asked.

Baker sighed and sat on the edge of his desk. "My friends. What you're about to hear spans hundreds of years, and involves secrets that most weren't meant to know."

"Save the Lovecraft quotes for edgy writers on twitter," Freddy said impatiently. "Spill it!"

Baker shrugged. "Very well. I am a warlock. The last of my line. The Bakers were one of six noble families who came under the guise of silver miners to this place, Jackalope Crossing, for it is the epicenter of a massive fissure in the fabric of the universe. A place of convergence for the universe itself. That is why so many oddities are drawn to this place." He glanced over to Carson, "Such as your kind and others like you.

"In either case, my family was determined to untangle the mystery of this place and harness its powers for our own purposes. We constructed a..." he paused to consider how to describe what it was he was about to say. "A sort of dam to harness these cosmic energies. This dam, which we call a Mandala, allows us to power spells and tip the forces of luck and fortune in our favor." He smirked. "How else could I and many in my family be consistently elected Mayor of this town over the years?"

"So when Vargas and Rayne dropped that car into the mine..." Gus started.

"They broke one of the seals of the Mandala, damaging it in the process." Baker said.

"But that doesn't explain why all of this is happening now." Allison pointed out. "That was a year ago. The ghosts didn't start up until just recently. What changed?"

"You're correct, Sheriff Newport." Baker nodded. "The mandala was damaged but there were spells put in place in the event such a thing occurred. My people weren't fools."

"So what caused your precious dam to finally break?" Freddy asked.

"There was an event." Baker explained. "A catastrophic event which sent ripples across space and time that no one could've anticipated." He glanced to Carson once again. "You know of what I speak."

"The genocide of the Kakabel." Gus said as he looked to his love and wasn't sure if what he saw in her eyes was guilt or not.

"In an instant the anger and pain of millions of alien souls was sent through the Mandala, and it caused a chain reaction which resulted in the unfortunate souls who perished to make the mandala in the first place rise up with renewed purpose."

"So the army of ghosts out there..."

"Are the souls of my forefathers." Baker nodded. "Those who gave their lives to form the instrument that would allow us to achieve greatness."

"Why did my brother die then?" Jessica asked. "Why did you hide it from me? Why did you lie?!?"

"There are forces out there, Ms. Nelson, forces that would want to see the work of my family in ruins. It was natural for me and my allies to maintain the secret of the Mandala and defend it at all costs. We figured the cover-up we had set up for your brother would've been sufficient to divert attention away from interested persons.... Clearly I was wrong."

"And sending your mook to kill us?" Freddy asked. "Was that part of the cover-up as well?"

"Once it was clear that you and Ms. Nelson wouldn't back down we had to take steps, yes. And again, my efforts were in vain." He looked to Gus and Allison. "And with this new development, you... who see more than any should... it is clear to me that some one else is pulling the strings..."

"Or maybe the cosmos has other plans you aren't aware of?" Gus said.

"It matters little now. The dead are coming, fueled by the rage of a dead race and I fear it is time to enact The Final Plan."

"And what is that?" Allison asked.

"The Mandala must be repaired." Baker said. "And I hope with your help we can make that happen. Come... there isn't much time." Baker waved his hand at the pentagram on the floor and much to the surprise of everyone the circle gave way to a spiral staircase. Baker descended the staircase and gestured for the others to follow.

"Are we really gonna follow the supposed warlock down there?" Freddy asked. "What if it's some sort of creepy sex dungeon full of traps?"

"Jack," Allison looked to Jackson, "This guy's the real deal. He's linked to something I've never seen before, the cosmos feeds it somehow."

"I saw it too." Gus nodded. "This guy is a goddamn warlock."

"Shit." Freddy rubbed his neck in frustration. "No stranger than aliens I guess. But can we trust him?"

Baker suddenly returned, behind Freddy. "For now there are greater threats than me." Freddy practically jumped out of his skin. "When this is over I will submit myself over to you, Sheriff Newport, and accept the consequences of my actions. All I did was in the name of protecting a power that I fear has now grown beyond my control. Come... we haven't much time."

The group began to follow Baker down the stairs, they seemed to go on forever. As they descended Gus went over to Carson to see how she was dealing with the revelation that, in some way, she was somehow responsible for the events transpiring here.

"How're you holding up?" Gus asked her.

Meanwhile, Allison had sidled up next to Jackson and gave him a friendly nudge. "So... does the CIA have procedures for how to lock up a warlock?"

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