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Los Angeles

Silver Lake
12:35 PM

Jessica Hyatt pulled into the driveway of her apartment and turned off the car. She looked up in the rearview mirror and cursed. The car that followed her all the way across town now sat halfway down the block of her street. It had to be Parker or one of his Pinkerton lackeys, reminding her once again who was in charge. She sighed and closed her eyes. She was exhausted from all the games and the lies, wearing one face with with Penny and a different one with Parker, neither one of them her real self. Escape seemed so far, but yet so close. She could leave right now, drive out of the city and not stop until she got to Canada. It would be the easiest thing in the world. She could---


The sound of the man's voice made her jump back. She snapped her eyes open and was surprised at the sight. A tall negro in a suit stood above the car, looking down at her with a curious expression. She saw a badge in his hand but didn't look at it closely.

"Leave me the fuck alone," Jessica yelled. "Tell Parker I'll give him the names, but it'll take time, okay!"

The negro man took a step back, his brow furrowing in confusion. It was then that Jessica noticed his badge was larger than the one the Pinkertons had. This one with the words LOS ANGELES POLICE written underneath the city seal.

"Detective Thomas," he said. "LAPD. When you said Parker, you mean the Pinkerton agent?"

"How do you know him?"

"How do you know him?" the man asked with raised eyebrow.

Jessica could kick herself. But, Thomas had showed up suddenly and she snapped without thinking. The best course was to keep her mouth shut.

"I don't think I should say."

"Ms. Weiss--" he started to say before Jessica cut him off.

"I'm not her. Actually, I don't even know her."

Jessica reached into her purse and passed over her driver's license to Thomas as proof. He looked it over before looking back at her.

"No?" A soft smile crept on to the detective's face as he passed the license back. "Well, Miss Hyatt, whose house was that you came out of? Some random stranger you don't know? By my count, you were there most of the night. Still want to lie to me?"

"Look," she said flatly. "I know my rights. Charge me or leave me alone. Those are the rights of the people. I know that may be hard for a -- what's the word -- Uncle Tom like you to understand."

The smile on Thomas' face disappeared and he started to clench his jaw in anger.

"Am I being charged with something?" Now it was Jessica's turn to smile.

"How about being part of a criminal conspiracy?" He asked just above a whisper. "A conspiracy to commit murder."


"Your friend, Weiss. At the very least she is complicit in the murder of two people, one of them a pretty little white girl who has been all over the news. Know what I'm talking about?"

Jess thought back to the dresser in Penny's bedroom. The photos of Claire Beauchamp. There was no way she could be capable of something like that. It was murder. But then again... what Penny proposed to Jessica. It was as dangerous and illegal as it was crazy. But worth killing over?

"They're not murderers. They're..." she started to say. Suddenly, she looked around. "Look, we need to go somewhere else. It's not safe to talk here. They could be listening."

Thomas looked apprehensive. He looked around before looking back down at Jess. His skeptical look evaporated as he saw the look on her face.

"C'mon," he said with a nod. "We can talk in my car. I'll drive us someplace safe."


Pinnacle Studios
3:04 PM

Four horses galloped across the sand of the studio back lot, Raymond Hollister riding the lead horse while three stunt men followed behind him. All four were dressed in black hats, coats, and pants. The standard attire for western bad guys. Hollister looked halfway decent riding, at least from where Elliot was watching. Maybe through the camera he looked every bit the imposing bandit leader he was supposed to be. That was the magic of movies, after all.

Elliot stood well behind the camera and crew as Hollister filmed his scene. That day the back lot was made up to resemble a western expanse, the perfect place for the final showdown between the evil Rudy Cleef and the enigmatic gunslinger Joe. All-American Van Hopper played the part. From what Elliot saw of the dailies, the picture was shaping up to be quite good. Both Hopper and Hollister were playing against type in the picture. Hollister traded in being the lead in another romantic comedy, while Hopper turned away from his boy-next-door image to play the taciturn gunfighter who becomes a reluctant hero. Not bad for a Roy Abercrombie picture.


Abercrombie sat just behind the camera, wearing his trademark sunglasses and sucking on his pipe. The story went that he lost part of his eyesight during the war. Nobody else knew anything else because they were always too afraid to ask. Elliot pulled out a fresh cigarette and walked across the sand towards him.

"We'll pick back up on the gunfight," said Abercrombie. "Close-ups."

"Roy," Elliot said once he was close enough.

He saw the scowl on the director's face. For a man who directed middle of the road cowboy pictures, Abercrombie thought a lot of himself. He was an artist and had little patience for studio people like Elliot, a fact he never tried to hide.

"What do you want, money man?"

"I need five minutes with Raymond."

Abercrombie puffed on his pipe for a few seconds before finally turning away from Elliot.

"Hollister! The corporate stooge wants a word with you. Be brief, please. We are already behind schedule."

Elliot rolled his eyes and walked away while Raymond climbed off the horse and walked bow-legged towards him. He remained silent as they walked away from the rest of the crew.

"How's it going, Ray?" Elliot asked once they were far enough away. "Enjoying the picture?"

"Sure am," he replied. "Elliot... what's this about?"

Without a word, Elliot passed him a folded up piece of paper. He saw the look on Raymond's face as he saw the contact sheet with names listed on it. Elliot took a drag off his cigarette and expelled smoke from his nose.

"Want to explain that to me, Ray?"


"Why are two of the names listed on that list dead? Murdered by person or persons unknown. Want to explain that."

Hollister started to regain his composure. He was a world class actor after all. "Look... this is not what it looks like."

"Tell me what it looks like," said Elliot. "Because to me, it looks like a list of people, two of those people had radical and subversive literature in their house. And the rest of them have ties to a politically charged movie the studio tried to squash."

Hollister let out a sigh. "That movie... that goddamned movie."

Elliot leaned forward. "Tell me about it, Ray. The movie, the group, the murders. What the hell is going on?"

"Gimme a cigarette." He took the smoke from Elliot with shaky hands. He had to help him put fire to the tip. He seemed to calm down as he blew smoke from his mouth. "It... got out of hand, Elliot. Things weren't supposed to be this complicated."


They both turned at the sound of Abercrombie. He stood twenty feet away, his hands on his hips and an agitated look on his face.

"Any reason why you're delaying my picture."

Raymond turned back to Elliot, his eyebrows raised.

"Go," said Elliot. "We'll talk after the scene. I gotta talk to Abercrombie, too."

Hollister nodded and flicked the cigarette away. He trudged back across the sand to the waiting camera and crew. Elliot drew closer and watched them set up while . In the shot, Hollister would pull his gun and fire off two quick blanks while a stuntman with his back to the camera did the same. Hollister would act like he'd been hit and fall, the climax of the film as the outlaw Cleef's death would come at the hands of the hero Joe.

"Ready," Abercrombine shouted from his chair. "And... action!"

Hollister squinted before pulling his gun as fast as he could. As fast as he was, the stuntman was faster. They both opened fire at the same time, the stuntman firing twice while Hollister only shot once before he jerked his body back and flopped to the ground.

"Cut! That was too over the top, Hollister. Let's do it again."

Elliot felt dread rising up in his chest at the sight of Hollister on the ground. He began to see fake blood pooling on the sand below his body and knew something was wrong. It was against the censorship code to show any kind of blood on film.

"Ray," Abercrombie said, standing up. "Ray... get up."

Cursing, Elliot ran across the sand towards Hollister. He turned him over, revealing two neat bulletholes in his chest that were rapidly bleeding out. The crew behind him screamed, the stuntman dropping the gun that was supposed to be loaded with blanks. Raymond looked up at Elliot, blooding dribbling out the corner of his mouth. He started to say something before he coughed blood, his eyes glazing over as he died.
Take the compliment, dude!

but thanks tho

Just for the REEEEEEE
I omitted best collaborative post and best post overall from mine because I couldn't just pick one. Seriously, I combed through the thread for a few hours and couldn't just pick one. All of y'all are great.

Most Interesting Character:

Priscilla Aglipay-Rizal -- @Letter Bee

"This is a man's world," to quote James Brown. PoW is so much further behind our own in a lot of ways. One of those is in gender equality. So, for a woman to stand out in this RPG and become a leader she has to excel even more so than she has to in today's world. She has to be so much better than her male peers. And Priscilla is that and so much more. She's a badass bitch.

Best Solo Story Arc

Taytu's Route 66 Sojourn -- @vilageidiotx

Like some alternate version of On The Road, Vilage is writing a quiet little masterpiece as Taytu and Noh travel across America. His descriptions of things and characters make me jealous, fucker is describing my country better than I am! But seriously, it's a fascinating storyline, offering glimpses of the alternate America from an outsiders perspective. Taytu is more insightful and thoughtful than Kerouac could ever manage.

Best Character Development:

Hou -- @Dinh AaronMk

I think one of the best things about the reboot is new ways to approach older characters. Hou was always one of the landmarks of the old PoW, and it would have been easy for Aaron to keep it the same. But I really love the Hou essays he adds to his post. They create a new depth to the character, a new weight to consider every time I read about him and a way to get inside his head.

Best Nation Development:

Armenia -- @TheEvanCat

Before I joined PoW, all I really knew about Armenia was the Kardashians, System of a Down, and the Genocide. But that was before I started reading Evan's posts. Keep in mind his Armenia is a bit... heightened, and it's alt. history, but still. It's a nation that is not a lot of people's go to, but Evan has made it his own. Through his excellent writing and unique style, he's carved out his own little piece of the world. Not bad for a Navy man.

Best Creative Idea

Duchy of West Afrika -- @NecroKnight

German Africans? lol, y'all wild. But seriously, loss of colonial power has been a big staple of PoW. So, it's cool to see a country that runs counter to that. West Afrika is a nation that could may have very well existed if WW1 ended differently, and it's one of those ideas that can only exist in PoW.

Best Use of Alt. History

Rhodesia -- @The Wyrm

Although he's moved on, Wyrm did a great job with Rhodesia in his tenure. The history of the nation is a complicated one, one that acts as a snapshot of the evolution of attitudes in the mid-20th century. Wyrm tackled those questions head on and created a country that was just more than a Bush War and tackled issues of colonialism, racism, and the legacy of European exploitation of Africa. Heavy stuff. It's why I'm so looking forward to what he can do with Spain.

PoW MVP (aka The Prime Preciprick):


When it comes to PoW, I look at Aaron and Vilage as two halves. Aaron is the aloof overlord, the CO if you will. But Vilage is the NCO, down in the trenches with his sleeves rolled up making it happen. He posts often and well, and that more than anything else keeps this game afloat. You da real MVP.
So, as we approach IC post 200 (Holy crap the game is moving), we're going to try to do something with the RP I've done in a lot of other games I've been part of. Writing awards. Essentially, people fill out the categories below. They say who their favorites are, and explain why they picked them. It's not a serious thing and we don't count votes or nothing like that. With the way a lot of our characters and nations are spread out all over, it's just a way to spread around positive feedback and encourage a kind of esprit de corps, and just to let folks know that they are part of the game and appreciated. Kiss each other's ass a bit.

Here are the categories.

Most Interesting Character

Best Collaborative Post

Best Solo Story Arc

Best Post

Best Character Development

Best Nation Development

Best Creative Idea

Best Use of Alt. History

PoW MVP (aka The Prime Preciprick)

I'll work on mine and try to have them up tonight.
Los Angeles

LA Convention Complex
10:11 AM

"It is my honor to announce the Democratic Party platform for the presidential election of the year nineteen and sixty."

Alabama Senator Red Faustus stood at the podium with his weathered, shaking hands tightly gripping the wooden sides of the lectern. His large glasses sat perched at the end of his nose, dangerously close to falling on the pages he read. Faustus was a relic, born in 1870 when his state was under federal military occupation. The ninety year old man had been elected to the senate in 1920 and had resided there every since. Even when his state rebelled, Faustus stayed behind in Washington. He spent the war under lax house arrest, deemed too old and weak to serve in the stockade MacArthur kept the rest of Congress in. He would have rather been an imprisoned US senator than not be a senator at all.

Eric Fernandez watched Faustus' speech from his box above the floor. It wasn't his box exactly, but a box reserved for democratic senators. Many mingled with each other over drinks. Rod Marston smelled like booze even this early in the morning. The convention floor stretched out below them. Each state had its own section packed with delegates. The bigger the state's population, the more delegates it had.

"The platform is too conservative," Alex Roy said with a frown. He stood beside Eric, reading a copy of the platform Faustus was slowly reading to the crowd below. "The biggest thing liberal thing I can find is the infrastructure investments in Cuba. The rest of it? Well, new legislation to beef up the Helms-Gasksins Act, calling for investigations and prosecutions of any religious organization with a radical agenda, further expansions of the Pinkertons purview, ending the Atlanta experiment--"

"It's a sop to the southerners," Eric shrugged. "They've been trying to re-segregate Atlanta ever since Wheeler forced integration."

Roy held up the pages and shook them at Eric. "But the rest of it is filled with things you're actively against. You win the nomination, you're going to run on this?"

"I know what you're saying." It was Eric's turn to frown. "We have some friends and allies that were part of the platform committee. But it's a big committee. And a big convention, lot of voters who aren't friends."

"Remember," Roy said softly. "The point is not to runaway with it. It's to move, not fast, but slow and steady. We've got the initial votes to block him getting elected on the first ballot. After that, the real work begins."


The Baxter Hotel
12:34 PM

"Thank y'all for coming."

Russell Reed shook hands with delegates as they filed out of the hotel ballroom. Most of them were part of the delegations of southern and midwestern states. Down to the last man they were all pro-Norman voters. His being here didn't really matter, but it was a nice concession to see him. Especially since the president would not be making an appearance at the convention at all, his acceptance speech delivered over the loudspeakers when he was nominated. The speech would be promoted as him delivering it live from the Oval Office, but in truth he would be recording it today and the reels would be flown across country tonight, delivered tomorrow and ready just before the voting started.

Once the all the delegates left, Russell headed for the lobby with his security detail following in his wake. While all the delegates headed back to the convention, Russell made his way to the elevators. A negro man in a sharp crimson suit stood outside an elevator. Russell nodded to him as the man called a car down to the lobby.

"Mr. Vice President."

Jim Sledge seemed to appear at Russell's elbow once again. Russell gave the little man a wry smile as the elevator doors opened. Russell, Sledge, his secret service agents, and the elevator operator all stepped in. Russell requested the top floor.

"How did it go with our Massachusetts friend?" asked Russell.

"He had a very good time last night. His friend, our friend in reality, is very observant. I'm already compiling her notes into his file."

Sledge's dossiers were legendary throughout the political world. Each one contained the life story on a particular politician. When and where he was born, his political leanings, even his school transcripts or military service record. The folder had the names of the pol's wife, children, and friends.

And then there was the dirt. If he made a mistake, Jim would find out about it. Addictions, mistresses, bastard children, criminal records, and any sexual kinks all went into the file with hard evidence to back it up. Even if the man hadn't committed any transgressions, then his father or someone else close to him had. There were no saints in American politics. Those files were somewhere Jim and only Jim knew, at his disposal whenever he -- or Russell -- needed emergency leverage. Every file Jim had, he provided Russell with a copy. All except one.

Russell knew Sledge had a file on him. It wouldn't make sense to not have one. If he did, then did he know about Russell's secret? That dangled over their twenty year relationship like guillotine blade, always waiting to fall. Jim had yet to use it, so Russell had no idea if he actually knew or if he was just biding his time.

He led the small party to his suite. The two secret service agents stopped outside the door while Russell and Sledge went inside. The suite had been made into a command post of sorts. Six phones sat on a table, five of them connected to the hotel switchboard. The fifth was a direct line to the White House so Norman could be kept up to date on the progress of the convention. Pinned on the wall above the phones was a blank map of the continental US. Each state's delegated count had been penciled in by Sledge, blue for Norman and red for Fernandez. So far the blue far outweighed the red.

Frenchie Gallo sat in a plush chair, puffing on a large cigar while waiting for them. He wore a navy blue suit with an orange shirt, no tie and the top two buttons undone to show off a thick patch of chest hair. Large sunglasses obscured his face. His eyebrows rose from behind the glasses and he stood at the site of Russell.

"Mr. Vice President." He shot out his chubby hand. Russell shook hands quickly and wiped the sweat off his hand as discreetly as possible.

"How are we set on votes?" Russell asked Frenchie before turning to the map. "Are your boys going to pull through."

"Oh, yeah." Gallo puffed out smoke and looked the map over. "Adding the Cuban stuff to the platform sealed it up for us. Every big city and state political machine we got in our pocket is voting Norman. Arizona, California, Chicago -- and Illinois by extension -- Missouri, and New York are all locks."

Russell and Sledge traded looks. Both men were doing political math inside their heads, adding each states' delegate counts and comparing. They seemed to arrive at the same conclusion together.

"First ballot," Russell said with a nod.

"It'll be close," Sledge added. "He'll just barely get that two-thirds majority. Maybe by twenty or thirty votes."

Gallo furrowed his brow and blew smoke as he spoke. "Fucking Fernandez has that many people on his side?"

"It's not just him," said Russell. "A few states like to vote for favorite sons, at least for the first round. Fernandez is a favorite son for Wisconsin, but he's also getting states around it like Minnesota, Iowa, maybe Michigan."

"Governor Hallsey will probably get Pennsylvania's votes on the first ballot," said Sledge.

Russell sighed. "New England is up in the goddamn air. Who knows who that little midget is going to get his people to vote for."

"It'll be close," Sledge said again before looking up at the map. "But it's all written down here, the road map to victory."

"Can we get these fucking favorite son states to back someone who's actually gonna win?" Frenchie grunted.

"Of course," said Russell. "But for a price."

"Favorite sons are nothing but a stalling tactic, Mr. Gallo," Sledge with a smile that had just a hint of a condescension in it. "Do you think Pennsylvania actually wants that moron governor of theirs in the White House?"

"It'd get him out of Pennsylvania, at least," Russell said with a short laugh. "But no. Favorite sons get taken off the board usually after the first ballot, once a deal has been cut. I like our chances to win on the first go around. I want to get the president the nomination without horse trading for it. We need to start the second term fresh, not beholden to anyone."

"Except me and my friends," Frenchie added.

"Owing gangsters favors we can live with," said Sledge. "It's owing politicians favors that can get you in trouble."


2:23 PM

In his hotel suite, Big Jim Dwyer was doing his own math, scribbling on a scratch piece of paper with a nubby pencil and staring hard through his reading glasses, and was coming to a very different conclusion. There was enough, not by man, but just enough to deny Norman a supermajority on the first ballot. Favorite sons, Fernandez's rising political support, and a few wild cards could all deny the president the first ballot. Two things were key. The first was Big Jim himself throwing New England's support behind Fernandez. Fernandez's deal hinged upon him getting the nomination. If Jim wanted to be able to pick the VP, he had to first get the man who made the offer nominated.

The second thing was a big state. He needed one to throw its support behind Fernandez. Texas was out, so were New York, California, Ohio, and Illinois. All of them were safely in the Norman camp through either political boss work, or from the scheming of Russell Reed. It was considered political suicide to ever break a promise to the vice-president. He had a long memory and a petty mind. That was why Jim had never said for sure either way how he would get his delegations to vote as insurance. Reed couldn't see it as a betrayal if Jim never said he would support the president.

"It's gonna be close," he said under his breath. "Very close."

He turned away from the paper at the sound of a knock on the door. After saying it was open, the door opened.

"Big Jim," Chicago mayor Charlie Ricketts said with a broad smile. He was dressed to the nines in a charcoal grey double breasted suit and matching bowler. The suit and hat looked very expensive, no doubt paid for by taxpayer money. "Mind if I come in?"

"Charlie," Jim looked over his reading glasses at the man. "That's fine."

Ricketts glided in. Jim saw that he wore spats over his shoes, immaculate white ones with fine gold buttons. That struck Jim as odd. Only old men like Senator Faustus still wore them, relics of the age before cars. Maybe that was the point of the outfit? Ricketts trying to channel his 19th century political boss forebears.

"We need to talk," Rickeets said, removing his hat. "I have a proposition for you. It involves the Illinois delegation and their votes."

"Have a seat," Big Jim said with a smile. "And let me get you something to drink."
I liked just the Assyrian Free State better. Need more details on the client states and how they got the way.
Make a sheet. Claims don't do anything here.
Five days ain't shit with this RPG. It's active as fuck. Birches need to post, but it's active. So apply.
Mood Music

March, 1937

11:31 PM

The only sources of light in the hotel room were the ember tip of Vic Hecht's cigarette and the soft glow of the wireless' display dial. Vic sat in a chair across the room from the radio, a cigarette in his left hand and the Colt automatic in his lap. Smooth jazz played on the wireless. Almost Blue. It made him think of Laura back in San Francisco. She couldn't make the trip for obvious reason. Jessica complicated things and they both knew that. With gangs and communists, the calculation involved was an easy one. Everyone knew the risk involved and signed up. But Jessica hadn't asked to be born to two radical parents, parents who might soon be in jail or dead if Vic's mission went sideways. Every decision they made had to be weighed with her future in mind. That was ultimately why Vic had agreed to undertake this task.

"We interrupt this program to announce a news bulletin."

Vic sat upright in his seat as the jazz disappeared, replaced by the excited voice of an announcer.

"Mere minutes ago, Governor Donaldson vetoed the California joint assembly's declaration of secession. Despite the governor's statements that he would veto it, the deceleration passed by a narrow margin in the joint assembly yesterday. California will not join the coalition of states and micro-republics that have been sprouting up across the west coast and the upper midwest states of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. After the vote, State Senator Samuel Bromowitz, leader of the California Worker's Party and leader of the assembly's secessionist wing, simply said that he expects the governor and the rest of the pro-US faction will have a change of heart. More updates as they develop."

The announcer was gone, replaced by Jazz again. Vic picked the pistol up and tossed it on the hotel bed. He stood and put the cigarette in his mouth as he crouched under the bed. His hands searched on the floor, finding nothing, before reaching up to search the bottom of the bed's wooden box spring. There was something cold and metallic there strapped to the bed. After a few seconds it came loose. Vic pulled a bolt-action hunting rifle out and cradled it. Attached atop the rifle was a telescopic lense. He worked the action three times to make sure it was loaded.

With the gun in his hands, Vic walked to the window of the hotel room and looked out. From the third floor he had a clear view of the park below. People were gathered in celebration. A pro-US rally celebrating the breaking news from the state house. The rally was planned regardless of the outcome. They would either celebrate or riot. They were jovial down below, waving US flags while a brass band played Yankee Doodle Dandy non-stop.

A cheer rippled through the crowd from the back towards the front. The mass of people parted for the black car slowly making its way towards the statue of John C. Fremont at the park's center. Vic knew who Fremont was and what he meant to California. The Pathfinder, the self-appointed military governor of California during the Mexican-American War, the man who made sure California would be in America's hands no matter how many dead Mexicans it took. The perfect avatar of bourgeois imperialistic greed.

The car finally stopped beside the statue. Two men in suits got out to keep the crowd back. A pair of pudgy hands came into view on the car's roof before Governor Donaldson pulled himself up on top of it. His chubby cheeks were flushed with both the effort of climbing up, and the victory at the state house. He waved to the crowd and began to motion them to quiet down. He apparently had words he wanted to share.

Vic slowly opened the window of the hotel room before he got on one knee with the rifle in his hands. He looked through the scope and adjusted it until he saw Donaldson's chest square in the middle of the crosshairs. The governor was less than four hundred yards away. During the practice shoots, he'd been able to hit a target from just outside five hundred and fifty yards.

This was it. Vic and Laura had talked about it with Bromowitz in the weeks leading up to this moment. This was when their side stopped talking and started doing. He had been advocating action since his first meeting over four years ago. The only way to beat the capitalists and the reactionaries was to play their game the way they played it. Vic hadn't suspended democracy, the government had. If MacArthur jailed political opponents and silenced critics, then the CWP could do the same. That was the only way to win. If it meant a better future for his daughter, then Vic would kill as many people as it took.

"This is for you, Jess," he softly said.

Vic let out a breath and squeezed the rifle's trigger.


Los Angeles

7:42 AM

"Almost blue."

Jessica opened her eyes at the sound of singing. Morning light filtered in from the parted bedroom curtains, giving everything in the room a soft glow. She was wrapped in the crimson sheets of Penelope's bed. Penelope herself stood on the other side of the room naked, her back turned as she looked through a dresser. She sang in a warm, husky voice that was only a few octaves below her speaking voice.

"Almost blue. Almost doing things we used to do. There's a girl here and she's almost you. Almost all the things that your eyes once promised. I see in hers too. Now your eyes are red from crying"

Penelope turned and stopped singing as soon as she saw Jessica was watching her.

"Good morning," she said sheepishly.

"Don't stop on my account."

Jessica sat upright in bed as Penelope padded across the carpet towards her. The two women embraced and traded short kisses. Last night had been a long one for several reasons. Jessica let almost all of it out. Her parents, growing up in Canada, and her eventual return back to the US as a teenager. Jessica felt like a weight had been lifted off her chest. There was still the bigger secret that loomed, but for now some of the burden of secrets was gone.

"Do you believe in god or fate?" Penelope asked softly.

"I believe in history," Jessica replied with a smile.

Penelope laughed and pulled Jessica close into a warm embrace. "I appreciate the dedication, comrade. But I mean more than the usual party line on these things. Do you think there is such a thing as destiny?"

"I don't know, Penny. Maybe things happen for a reason, but who knows. Why do you ask?"

"Because I... lost someone recently." Penny's eyes seemed to gloss over, lost in thought as a sad smile appeared on her lips. Her eyes focused back and she seemed to brighten at the sight of Jessica. "Someone I greatly cared about. But now you showed up in my life, and it has to be fate, Jess. It has to be!"

They traded kisses. Kisses that became more deeper and passionate. Kisses that turned into caresses and tender touches and much more. Just before she came, Penelope started to shout out a name, a name that died in her throat as a choked gasps. Jessica waited until Penelope drifted off to sleep before she slipped from her embrace and climbed out of bed. She softly padded across the carpet towards the dresser Penelope had stood at earlier.

Jessica gave a start at the sight in the top dresser drawer. It was filled with pictures, glossy headshots of a beautiful woman she recognized. Where she was from, Jessica couldn't place of the top of her head. She flipped through the photos, headshots became profile pictures and candid photos of the woman wearing fine evening wear and accompanied by handsome men. Suddenly it clicked.

Claire Beauchamp. The dead actress from the papers. Jessica had never seen her movies, but her face was all over the papers in the last few weeks. You had to be living in a cave not to know what she looked like. She looked closely at her face and realized that she had a passing resemblance to her. She wasn't close enough to be Jessica's twin, but someone could make the assumption that they were sisters.


The sleepy mumble from Penelope caused Jessica to nearly jump. She turned around and saw the older woman still in bed, her eyes close but her arms searching out for her missing lover. Jessica slowly closed the dresser shut and tip-toed back to bed. Penelope let out a sigh of contentment as she slid back into her arms.

"I had to pee," Jessica said as she kissed her on the cheek.

"We need to talk," Penelope said, her eyes fluttering open to drive the sleep away. "I have a proposition for you."


11:45 AM

Jeff sat upright in his car. The door to the mansion swung open and a woman came out. His car sat parked halfway down the block. He'd been parked here since three in the morning, ducked low in the backseat to avoid anybody seeing him. In a neighborhood like this, he stuck out. An LAPD cruiser came by at four and he'd flashed his badge and came up with a bullshit story that got the patrolmen here to give him space on the stakeout. Almost nine hours later and the surveillance was finally bearing fruit.

The woman who came out of the mansion was young, mid-twenties. She had curly auburn hair that cascaded down her back to just below her shoulders. She wore large sunglasses to cope with the glare of the late morning sun, but even with the glasses Jeff could see her beauty. The sundress and heels she wore didn't scream wealth, but if Weiss was radical she wouldn't like to flaunt her wealth... the giant mansion not withstanding. He'd asked Shaw for a picture or description of the woman but he had to shrug, his boss always dealt with her and he had no pictures of her around.

She climbed into a mint green DeSoto Firefly two-seater and started it up. She pulled the ragtop down before backing out the driveway and heading south, driving away from his parked car. Jeff started his car and counted off seconds. One one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand. At thirty, he hit the gas and sped off in search of the DeSoto.

A flash of motion caught his eye as he headed south in pursuit. A black Ford pulled onto the street from a side road and followed behind him. He ignored it and kept the car moving towards Weiss. The color meant he could afford to hang back on his tail. He caught up with DeSoto just as it got on the Ellis Expressway. Jeff followed and joined the mass of people heading south to downtown LA.
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