Lennie handed a bottle of beer to Scott. “I don’t like how you handled this situation, but what’s done is done. From now on, any murders you have that concern runes you contact me immediately. I want to look around before your techs get there.” Lennie sat next to Nickie.
“All right. I take it wherever you go she goes?”
“Of course. She’s my Archivist Apprentice. If I’m any judge, she’ll reach Third-Class before she finishes her first year. I’m also her Keeper, in case you have forgotten.”
“So there’s nothing going on between the two of you?”
Nickie started laughing.
Lennie choked on her beer. “What the hell is wrong with everyone? Why this sudden interest in my personal life? Did someone put up a damn billboard that says ‘Lennie and Diane broke up’?”
“Sorry! It’s just I was at the diner the other day and was talking to Lisa. She mentioned you and Diane were no longer an item.” He ran his fingers through his hair. “I didn’t mean to upset you, Lennie.”
“Whatever. I wonder why the guards at the harbor didn’t tell you about the missing people.”
“Why would they? The cops look down on those guards, thinking them less than security guards in a store. Those guards receive minimum wage, no health insurance and work twelve-hour shifts. The last time a guard disappeared down there, it was a week before the police looked into it. The guy that disappeared was found dead in the sewer below Harbor Street.” Nickie finished her pop. “You cops think you’re hot shit, with your badges and authority, but most of you don’t know how to treat the rest of us with a little decency and respect.” She stood. “Lennie, I’m going to put the rest of my stuff away and set up my game console.”
“All right. Why don’t you take another pop with you and a couple of candy bars in case you get hungry.”
“Good idea.” Nickie gathered what she needed and left the room.
Scott shook his head. “What the hell was that all about? Why does she hate the police?”
“I dare say she has her reasons.” Lennie lit a cigarette.
“Which is a polite way of saying it’s none of my business.”
“If Nickie wants you to know, she’ll tell you.”
They talked for another half hour about inconsequential things, and then Scott left, promising to call Lennie the next day about the progress of the murder investigations.
Lennie cleaned up the living room before going to her study to get report. Time to let Nickie read it.
The stench of unwashed bodies and fear filled the large tent. Reginald’s lip curled in disgust. “I provide portable showers for these workers. Why don’t they make use of them?”
“Perhaps they do not realize they stink. Most of these workers live on the streets and earning money is more important than being clean.” A grating voice issued from the deep hood.
“Why in the world are you dressed like a rapper?”
“It’s the easiest way to blend in,” Ralaax said.
“You could have waited back at the mansion instead of coming here.”
Three workers pushing wheelbarrows passed below the platform they stood on. None of them looked at the two overseeing the work.
“Mr. Aston, you wanted to see me?” Gillian walked over.
“Yes.” He pulled something from his pocket and held it out. “I want you to place this on Lenara Lenquil’s car. Make sure it won’t be easy to find if she looks for it.”
“A GPS tracker? Does this mean we won’t be following her any more?” She clutched the item.
“Correct. Once that’s in place, I need you and Jay to break into her apartment and see what you can find. Like any Archivist, she keeps personal journals about her work.”
“Yes, sir. Anything else?”
“We need more workers for this site. See about making a recruiting run. Avoid the Harbor district. The security guards are asking too many questions when people don’t return to their haunts.” His attention returned to the work below.
“Yes, sir. I’ll head for the warehouse area. We haven’t been down there in a while.”
“Do you trust her and the others?” Ralaax said.
“Yes. They have seen what will happen to those who betray us.”
A shout from below sent them down the ladder.
“Mr. Aston! We’ve uncovered the door. The seal is intact,” Harold Larson, the head researcher joined them.
“Excellent. Tell the workers to return to their quarters. I will speak to them momentarily.” Reginald and his companion strode down the ramp to the lower level of the ruin “With the seal unbroken, the item we seek should be there.”
A twelve-sided seal a foot across stood out; the runes matched the ones Ralaax had shown him. “Will you be able to remove the seal without breaking it?”
Andrew James leaned forward for a closer look. “It will take us a few hours, Mr. Aston, but yes, we will remove it without destroying the seal.”
“See to it. Tell the others in your group to sort through the two piles of rubble in the large room. There could be something of value there.”
“I think I will stay here to watch,” Ralaax said. “It’s possible the seal is trapped and I am able to disarm it.”
“As you wish. I need to speak to the workers.” Reginald headed up the ramp. Perhaps I can convince some of the workers to join the Council. Some of them are actually intelligent and knew how to follow orders. The others will go to the altar.
Report in hand, Lennie knocked on Nickie’s door.
Plastic wrap and empty boxes littered the floor. “I see it didn’t take long to get your stuff unpacked.” She sat on the edge of the bed. “Here’s the report. You can read the entire thing if you like, but the section you need to read is on the Personal page.”
Nickie accepted the document and flipped to the page. “’Destined to be bondmates, Lenara Lenquil, and Nickie Atlan match in all aspects of their personality and way of thinking. They should meet as soon as possible. We cannot see what lies ahead, the Mists block us, but they have important work to do. They will need the love and support of each other.’” She tapped her chin. “What’s a bondmate?”
“I have no idea who came up with these terms, but this is the accepted definition. A bondmate is a combination of a soulmate and a life partner. The bondmate is an individual you trust, feel comfortable with, and attracted to. A person with beliefs similar to your own, and you feel in sync with that person. They have similar flaws and habits, too.” Lennie rested her arms on her thighs. “The Scryers have never been wrong about bondmates.”
“What does this mean for us?”
“For now we continue as we are. You need to finish settling in and adjust to your new position as an Archivist Apprentice. We’ll take each day as it comes. Okay?” She rested a hand on the younger woman’s shoulder.
“I understand.” She handed the report back. “What are we doing tomorrow?”
“Moving into our new office, and meeting with the others about exploring the building. You will be involved in every aspect of this venture. With so much to do, don’t stay up too late playing games. I want you up and dressed by seven tomorrow morning.” Lennie tapped her on the head with the report. “Understood?”
“Why couldn’t she own an SUV or a pick-up truck?” Gillian climbed to her feet. “Jay, Grab the jack and the cinder blocks from the trunk. I can’t get under the damn car.”
“Before Ralaax killed Arnie, he got stuck under a car when planting a GPS.”
“Arnie was an ass. He didn’t bother to check the license plate number before planting the thing.” When the car was high enough, she slipped the cinder blocks under the frame. “Good thing this garage has no security. Not even a camera. Start up the computer. After I switch GPS, I want you to check the location.”
“Okay. Do we return to headquarters after we finish here?”
“No. First, we’ll grab something to eat, then on to the warehouse district. Mr. Aston wants us to recruit more workers.”
With the device attached to the frame, Gillian raised the car and removed the cinder blocks. “The device is on; bring up the tracking program.”
“All right, it’s showing up on the map where it should be.” Jay turned the laptop off.
“Perfect. Let’s get out of here.”