One dream, one soul, one prize, one goal
One golden glance of what should be
(It’s a kind of magic)
One shaft of light that shows the way
No mortal man can win this day
(It’s a kind of magic)
The bell that rings inside your mind
Is challenging the doors of time!
The waiting seems eternity
The day will dawn of sanity!
Is this a kind of magic?
(It’s a kind of magic!)
There can be only one!
This rage that lasts a thousand years
Will soon be done
-Queen, “A Kind of Magic”
The Alliance members of Los Angeles don’t have the pooled resources of the Traditions or Technocracy. A hidden enclave have formed, occultated with Batini wards and protected by spirits bound by the Taftani, Bata’a, and Wu Lung. What they do have is a mutual support and defense pact, and the freedom to act on their own recognizance without the Technocracy’s directives or the Council’s deliberation weighing them down. Each member of the Alliance is their own mage with their own goals and their own methods. When the chips are down, they’ll support one another, protect one another, and back one another’s plays, but first and foremost they are their own masters. They may not have the venerable history of the Council or the organizational might of the Technocracy, but the Crafts have deep roots among both the Sleepers and the spirits, and have the wisdom of those who had to witness the carnage of the Ascension War from the outside.
Woven In The Web But Forged in Fire
As the other mages duked it out on the frontiers of the Ascension War, Batini and Hollow Ones sipped quicksilver tea in the halls of Spies Demise. Over the Digital Web, Batini and Hollow representatives agreed that the direction the other mages were taking would lead, once again, to disaster. Rumors of Fallen influence, or worse, Fallen control of the Technocracy and perhaps even the Council spread like wildfire. As the 1990s waned, the web grew bigger drawing in Wu Lung and Solifiati to the table. Two became five, and they had their own stories to tell concerning the rot at the center of the Ascension War. While they differened on most things they found agreement on what mattered: the rot must be cut out – but first they must find a way to survive. The Alliance was woven and joined the Ascension War.
With the Storm at its peak and the Traditions beaten, the Technocracy turned their weapons upon any threat they could find. The five reached out to five more, who, when faced with the wrath of the Technocracy, put aside their differences in the name of survival. The Alliance became ten. The Technocracy’s slaughter was overstated, however. Perhaps it was propaganda meant to discourage the Traditions and other mystics, or perhaps there was some truth to it. Some Crafts were caught under the boots of HIT MARKS, fell to Tradition condescension, or vanished into the Storm. A tiny few quietly joined the Traditions, perhaps they hold grudges or perhaps this was just another trick in the Alliance’s game. Aided by Batini guile and a few Wonders with the power of Occultation, most simply learned how to be invisible, and wait patiently for the Storm to pass.
How To Disappear Completely
The Crafts disappeared under a confluence of forces that conspired to destroy them. The Storm, the Pogrom, and the chaos of the Ascension War all provided the perfect cover. It was the single greatest slight of hand ever performed in the Ascension War. The Crafts simply vanished from the board. For now, they are an unseen hand with as much influence on the board as the other players. The only difference is the other players don’t realize that a fifth player has joined the game. That is how the Alliance prefers it.
- The Technocracy – As far as the Technocratic Union is concerned the Crafts were either destroyed or so reduced in numbers as to no longer be a threat. They are wholly unaware of the Alliance, at least on the operative level. Despite this the Technocracy remains the greatest threat to the Alliance. The Pogrom was called to a halt, for now, but there is a vocal minority within the Union see the Pogrom as a job left unfinished.
- The Traditions – The Traditions are certainly aware that the Crafts are in a phase of renewal, but do not know the extent of it. Their main source of information comes from members drawn from the Crafts themselves, and even those who hold a grudge against their former Craftmates would not betray their confidences. Some have sought the counsel of the Hollow Ones, but find that fence needs mending. The Traditions know the Crafts were not entirely wiped out, but are wholly unaware of the Alliance itself.
The Alliance is an agreement between equals. Each Craft is an island-nation unto itself. There are disagreements and resentments on all sides, but when push comes to shove they have each other’s backs. They disagrees on virtually everything except the following:
- The Technocracy and the Traditions cannot be saved. Whether it is the influence of the Fallen or simply self-interest, neither can be trusted or relied upon to right the real enemy.
- Each Craft is left to govern itself, but will each defend the other against common enemies.
- The true enemy in the Ascension War are the Fallen. Alliance members are expected to put aside their differences in order to cut out the corruption at the heart of the Ascension War.
- Ahl-i-Batin – The Batini operate out of a chain of mini-marts with forgettable names. You know the places that get robbed in movies, but in reality are just where you get gas, buy phone cards, and junk food on your way home from work. Simply called The Shop, the Batini operate a tightly organized and paranoid surveillance and espionage operation. The Qtub goes simply by Vienna, and their identity is completely unknown. They communicate only via the Digital Web or the dark internet. There are rumors that they are the Sphinx or are involved with it.
- Bata’A – The Bata’a are everywhere. Literally. Operating out of a massive chain of Botanica and related Vodun shops from Long Beach all the way into Orange County and even Mexico. Easily the most numerous Craft, the Bata’ have slowly migrated to Los Angeles over the course of the last century. Mãe-De-Santos Obelia LeFleur and Pae-De-Santos Tyrone Jeffries act as the liaisons for the Crafts, but the Bata’a are a sprawling, chaotic family.
- Children of Knowledge – The Projection Institute operated by Master Torbern Mara-Lopez is the center for Solificati activities in Los Angeles. The small research laboratory trains modern day alchemists, but is also at the forefront of psychedelic medicine courtesy of several front companies.
- Hollow Ones – Based out of the Masque, the Hollow Ones are “lead” by the androgynous Mallarme, and his roving tribe of No Futurists.
- Kopa Loei – The Kopa Loei are few in Los Angeles, but a small group of Kahunas operate the ʻIke Maka, an abandoned lighthouse in the Channel Islands.
- Ngoma – The Ngoama operate out of Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge in South Los Angeles. Kijito Honor San Juan leads the secret school within the two Prince Hall masonry in Los Angeles. From this small but potent reality zone they look after the Craft’s interests in Los Angeles.
- Sisters of Hippolyta – The Sisters conclave operate out of a small theater in Silver Lake where they perform ancient Greek plays, and modern feminist comedies. They are governed by epitropi, but outsiders generally meet with Sister Larissa Demostetes.
- Taftani – The Taftani have no structure what so ever, and there aren’t more than a handful in Los Angeles, all trained by the nomadic Farez El Din. If the Taftani were to look to a leader it would be Farez, and he can be found somewhere between Long Beach and East LA playing prog-rock gigs out of his blue van with a wizard painted on the side.
- Templar Knights – Brotherhood of Christ’s Mercy is an all-male Lodge that was once part of the Virgens of Los Angeles. The Lodge split off in the early 1900s, and went underground. Honored Master Javier Gomez-Diaz leads the Lodge in Los Angeles. They operate out of an old Free Masonic Lodge in Glendale, but have numerous safe houses throughout Los Angeles.
The Alliance In Los Angeles
The Alliance can’t claim the storied histories of the Technocracy and the Traditions, but has come a long way in a short time. The Alliance operates almost exclusively out of its ancestral strongholds which are veiled by Batini Wonders and other defenses. Out of a need to share information the Alliance has several secret places where they can meet away from prying eyes.
- The Storm – For Batini with long memories the Storm was just a tantrum as the universe moved towards Unity. For the Wu Lung and the Solifiati it was proof that the Traditions held too much power. For the Hollow Ones it just confirmed their suspicions that everything really is going to hell.
- The Pogrom – Los Angeles is a city of strange bedfellows and that is where the Alliance thrives. For decades, Hollow One Gangstars had been trading spirit-summoning tips and bullets with the Bata’a. Likewise, Batini assassins would employ Templars as backup on missions against the Fallen. The Wu Lung corporate-sorceress shares a martini with the Hyppolytoi policy advocate at a women’s networking lunch. When word began to spread of the Alliance, the Crafts of Los Angeles were already pioneering such cooperation. As the Pogroms geared up the Alliance were not caught unawares. Through a mix of trickery, guilde, and sacrifices, the Alliance performed what the Wu Lung called “giving to get your way”. Like Aikido where the adage came from they simply maneuvered the onslaught where it could do the least damage. The once closely held strongholds were sacrificed to the Technocracy who found them empty of all but subtle clues to a path of least resistance which they readily took up. Following the crumbs left by the Alliance, the Technocracy was slowly lead from stronghold to stronghold where they either found no one, or Sleepers entirely unaware of the Ascension War. The iron bull of the Union followed the twists and turns of Batini labyrinths, Wu Lung conspiracies, Hollow One traps, and sometimes, the alchemical bombs of the Solifiati. Believing the Crafts fled, they called it a day, and turned their aggression inward.
- The St. Francis Dam Collapse – Two and a half minutes before midnight on March 12, 1928, the St. Francis Dam catastrophically fails. The St. Francis dam an important keystone in the Technocracy’s Master Plan, and its collapse set the plan back decades. The Union, of course, blames the Traditions for the collapse, but no single mage, cabal or chantry has ever admitted to having been involved. While the source of this catastrophe remains mysterious there are rumors that the Batini or the Bata’a know who’s behind it.
- The Star Chamber – The ironically named secret Hollow One court is now a haven for Disparates in the Digital Web. It serves as neutral meeting place for the Alliance’s digital conspiracies or simply a meeting ground for whom meeting in person would be too dangerous.
- The King Eddy Hotel & Saloon – The Hollow Ones donated one of their long held secret strongholds, the King Eddy Saloon, to the cause. The hotel itself is condemned, and mostly used by the denizens of Skid Row for illicit purposes, but a few rooms have been occulted as safe houses for Disparates needing to lay low. The Hollow Ones once operated a speakeasy there during Prohibition Era, but now rather than serving drinks to flappers it serves them to the Alliance.
- The Oubliette – The Alliance of Los Angeles responded to the Pogrom in a novel way – they created a backdoor. Bata’a already possessed a series of spirit-doors or pathways they called Les Routes Invisibles which they had used to move unseen through the Umbra for centuries. Hollow Ones had a similar trail of patchwork Shadllowings and Umbral backdoors. Both were entirely unknown to each other until Batini maze-makers from the Shop showed them how to knit them together. Portals were created, and when the time came, this Invisible Highway became a life saving road of escape from Technocratic violence. The Oubliette now exists as a spiritual warren just behind the walls of the city, and is the foundation of the Alliance conspiracy. From within its walls, the Alliance can emerge to perform espionage, sabotage, and all manner of trickery only to vanish once more into this unseen tunnel.