Damn it! What does that outline mean? Lennie checked her messages. A reply from Brant awaited her.
We have had reports of two other Archivists with this ability. No one knows what it means, but I spoke to the head Scryer about it and she believes it has to do with the shadows that have been spotted. Keep a close eye on Nickie and let me know if she has seen it around anyone else.
Her fingers moved fast in reply.
Nickie says the outline surrounds Ryan Jones. We’re supposed to discuss exploring an abandoned building near the river, but now I’m not sure if Ryan should be included.
For now, include him in the group, but don’t let him read your reports or journals. His job is to take photographs and record the exploration, nothing more. If he tries to step outside of those bounds, inform me immediately.
Satisfied, Lennie returned to the table. “Sorry about that, Important message I had to respond to.”
Shannon slid another slice of pizza onto Lennie’s plate. “So what are the plans?”
“We’re going to do a thorough search of an abandoned building near the river. 1530 Harbor Street is the location. Be advised two bodies have been found there and the lab techs from the police department have been there. The idiots found a piece of an artifact and didn’t inform the Archive. I took care of that right quick.” Lennie took a bite of her pizza.
“Were the murders committed at the building?” Ryan opened a second bottle of pop.
“Appears to be a dump site. I already informed Detective Scott Olson that we’ll be searching the building. If the police need to look around some more, they need my permission.”
“Let’s see the plans for the building,” James said.
“Nickie, hang the plans on the whiteboard, please.”
Nickie complied, rolling the board closer to the table. “I’ve slept in this building many times and explored it a bit myself the first time I came across it.”
Ryan stared at her. “Were you living on the streets?”
“Yes.” Nickie turned back to the plans. “I can tell you there are two things different about the building from the plans. There is a set of stairs that appeared after the comet fly-by. They go down from the current basement, but I never checked it out. The roof is intact, but windows that weren’t bricked up are broken. The second change is another room you can access from a door in the basement. The walls there are rough stone, not brick.”
Lennie smiled at her apprentice. “Thank you, Nickie. The building is one-story high. The stairs leading to that new lower level has me curious, I’ll admit, as does the new room.”
“Let’s see a picture of the artifact the police found.” Shannon patted Nickie’s arm when she sat down. “Very good, Nickie. Looks like Lennie is right about you becoming a top notch Archivist.”
When the meeting ended, Ryan and Shannon stayed behind. “Lennie, do you want me to requisition video cameras for all of us? I know you have a habit of going off on your own when exploring.” Ryan toyed with the ID card hanging from his belt.
“Good idea. Also need extra memory cards for everyone. Who knows what we will find there and I want to do a thorough documentation of the place.” Lennie stacked the papers containing her notes. “You better head down to Supply now and get that taken care of. We’ll see you at the building tomorrow morning at seven.”
“Right. Nickie, I’ll show you how to use the cameras to get the best shots,” he offered.
“I’ll be teaching her that later today, Ryan. Thanks anyway.” Lennie rested a hand on Nickie’s shoulder. Until we know what the outline means, I don’t want him getting close to Nickie.
Lennie slumped with relief once Ryan left. Shannon stared at the two women. “What the hell’s going on, Lennie? You’re acting strange.”
“Ryan is surrounded by a black outline and Nickie doesn’t trust him.”
“Ah, so she has that unique ability. My aunt told me about that. She thinks there might be many people able to do the same, but are afraid to say anything. Do you get any feelings about the person?”
“Like he’s up to no good. It’s hard to explain; since he’s the first person with the aura I’ve been in close contact. I don’t like the way he kept watching me, either. Gives me the creeps.”
“She’s also seen a couple others here at the Archive with the same feature. I’ve informed Brant.”
“Which means he’s told my aunt.” Shannon stood. “I better get going. Have a lot of gear to get for tomorrow and the two of you need to finish settling in here.”
“Shannon, don’t say anything to James about this. I know he and Ryan are best friends.”
“My lips are sealed, my friend.” With a wave, she left.
Waiting for the elevator, Ryan stared down the hall. “What do you think of Nickie Atlan?”
“She seems fine and sounds like she will fit right in. Don’t get any ideas, Ryan. I noticed the looks she was giving you. I don’t think she much cares for you. Besides, I don’t think she’s the type that goes for males.”
“I’m good at convincing them otherwise. After a night with me, I’ve never had problems getting a second date with a woman.”
James grabbed the front of Ryan’s’ shirt and pulled him close. “Don’t go there, Ryan. You may be my best friend, but you try anything with Nickie, and I’ll beat the shit out of you.”
“Chill, my friend. Besides, she’s under Lennie’s care, and I don’t want to lose my job by messing with a Keeper.”
James opened the door to Supply and they entered. A large woman behind the long counter glared at Ryan. “Ryan Jones, what the hell did you do to that video camera? It’s going to take the techs days to get all the mud cleaned out of it.”
“Hi Ruthie. Sorry about that. Ended up in a small mud hole on a site. Lost my footing on the plank that went across it.”
“I suggest you get out of here before Carl learns you are here. He’s pissed and isn’t adverse to punching you in the face. You know how he feels about the equipment. Stay away for the next two hours, until his shift ends,” she advised. “James, you’re safe. No one is mad at you.”
“Guess I can take care of a few errands to pass the time. Thanks for the warning, Ruthie. James, I’ll see you later.”
“Stay out of trouble.”
“So Nickie Atlan was at the meeting and settling in as an Archive Apprentice.” Reginald leaned back and studied Ryan. “How did she react to you?”
“Not very well, I’m afraid. She kept giving me suspicious looks. I swear I didn’t do or say anything wrong.”
“The Keeper assigned to her, Lenara Lenquil, what kind of person is she?”
“Very loyal to the Archive and her work. She’s not the type to back down from a fight either. I’m not sure what kind of defensive training she’s had, but rumor has it she does go armed at times.” Ryan dropped his gaze. “Mr. Aston, about my payment…”
“Gambling again, Mr. Jones?”
“Yes, sir. Had a sure winner in the fifth race yesterday. Came up lame in the final stretch and gave up a ten-length lead.”
“You will be paid before you leave today.”
“Thank you. My loan officer is getting a little anxious about my falling behind with the payments.”
“Back to Miss Lenquil. I need you to slip a GPS into her gear. We have one on her car and now I want one on her person if possible or in a bag she carries. If you can, slip one into Nickie Atlan’s too.” He placed two trackers on his desk.
“Understood. I might have a good chance while we are unloading at the building tomorrow. Do you want me to make copies of the video and photographs we take?” Ryan grabbed the objects and stuffed them in his pocket.
“Of course. I also need you this evening at the Crayson Ruins. I’ve been informed they will be removing the seal intact and I want the best photographer there to record it all.”
“I’ll be there at sunset.”
“Good.” He placed a stuffed envelope on the desk. “Here’s your payment. There’s a bit extra in there for tonight’s work.”
“Thank you, Mr. Aston.” Ryan resisted the urge to count the cash.
“A bit of advice, Mr. Jones. Rein in your gambling habits. I have enough to worry about without a loan shark added to the mix. Or should I have Ralaax have a talk with you about your habit?”
The blood drained from his face. “No-no, sir. That won’t be necessary. I’ll try harder to stop. I swear.”
“Good. You may leave.”
He bolted from the office.