Precious Cargo by TalgoM
"I don't either Nick, but you know what I mean. Forces just conspire against us never really giving us the moment we need." She paused to look around the pool house. She then glanced again at Nick, sitting there in the dim lighting in his dark suit, clean shaven, hair neatly combed. Her eyes again turned to take in the scene around them and something dawned on her. "Now feels like a pretty good time."
"What?" Nick asked shocked by her boldness.
"Well, look around. We're all dressed up, looking better then we have probably in weeks. We're in this gorgeous pool house, moonlight reflecting off the water. It's 11:30; Derek's party is almost wrapped up, God I hope. And I don't feel a distraction coming on." She turned to look at him almost sheepishly, not sure how he would respond to her. As soon as their eyes met she knew that she shouldn't have doubted his appreciation for the idea.
"And we were about to talk the moment away." Nick mumbled as he leaned in to kiss her. She made no comment before their lips met, staying surprisingly quiet for once. He passionately kissed her, his body moving off the bench without breaking away from her. He positioned himself in front of her, his arms supporting himself over her while hers wrapped around his waist. They stayed like that for several moments. Him kissing her along her bare shoulders, her jaw and ears. He could feel her breaths becoming heavier as she exhaled against his cheeks. Her hands pulling at his shirt underneath his jacket so that she could run fingers along the bare skin of his back. He suddenly remembered something and pulled back to look at her anxious face. "Gilb might come back."
"You're right." She looked around the room wishing for a backset of stairs so they wouldn't have to get past the guests and possibly Derek. She blinked hard hoping to calm herself down enough to appear normal for anyone they might run into. But this tension had been allowed too much time to build and she was getting desperate to release it. "We beeline for upstairs. I don't feel well."
"You're brilliant." Nick responded leaning back in for another kiss. Again they let it linger too long and she felt one of his hands reach around for the zipper to her dress.
"Let's go." She pushed him away even if it was the last thing that she wanted to do. He nodded trying to slow his breaths and stood back up straight. "Your shirt Nick, that'll be a dead give away to Derek." She motioned to where his shirt now hung out of his pants.
"Derek's not going to buy any excuse, he'll know." He said, pushing the shirt back down into the waistline of the black pants. "I don't think he'll say anything though."
"Good." Tangye answered pulling him close once more. He met her and let their bodies drift back until she was up against the stone pillar by the bench.
"We really need to get upstairs." Nick moaned as he pulled away again, each time though it was getting harder to do.
"Yep. Act natural." She instructed as he pulled open the main door.
"I was planning on making an announcement." Nick joked, his voice still deeper then normal with anxiousness at the prospect of being with her after months of waiting.
"You are a saint you know that?" Alex whispered slipping her arm into Gilby's when she found him in the dining room on the edge of a conversation that he was listening to but didn't have much interest in just by the look on his face. She doubted that the other members of the party noticed it but she had been given a lot of time to learn his look of boredom and no matter how hard he tried to hide it she saw it.
"If anyone would know, you would." He whispered down into her ear as she steered him away from the group that had cornered him. Many of the guests had already begun to leave for the night and the number of people had thinned substantially. It was now much easier for the couple to find a quiet corner to talk in without having to abandon the party altogether.
"I owe you big for tonight don't I?" Alex asked with a happy glint in her eyes.
"We'll figure something out." Gilby answered without committing. He didn't want to complain about this night too much knowing there would be others in the future if he managed to maintain a relationship with Alex. He would have to learn to suck it up and deal with his discomfort. "Does Derek really like these things?" He asked looking over where the precept stood in a group of people wearing much the same distant expression that Gilby had.
"Did you see how anxious he was before hand? No one enjoys anything that they get so nervous about before hand. It's just part of the job of being Derek Rayne." Alex shook her head. Like Gilby Derek would much rather have been doing something more physical, uncovering the artifact they had revealed tonight rather then displaying one for the wealthy donors.
"Not applying for that one." Gilby said with a shake of his head that sent his hair tumbling from behind his ears and down into his eyes.
"Luckily we already have one." She gave him a gentle kiss on the cheek and noticed one of Rachel's friends leaving the room, checking twice over his shoulder that no one was noticing him. "Wait for me here a second." Gilby shrugged as she wandered off after Raymond. Out in the main hall of the house she saw him turn the corner leading off to the back of the house. There was no indication out that he shouldn't be going back that way but there was something about the way he was walking that made Alex feel he already knew that he shouldn't. She followed behind him, curious to see where he might be going.
Nick and Tangye managed to make it through the thick of the party and to the stairs without anyone stopping them. Derek was no where to be seen, but they both knew their absence would be noticed and brought up to them tomorrow. That was tomorrow and neither was terribly concerned with it. They made it just inside the doors leading to the bedrooms before they were discovered. In fact, since they lived in the house, it was they who discovered someone else.
They both stopped in their progress seeing a woman ahead of them in the hall peering into Kristin's bedroom. The researcher was off on a research trip in Paraguay at the time lending her expertise to a Legacy team. "Can I help you?" Nick asked causing the woman to jump and slam the door she had just barely open. She spun around to look at the pair blocking her path back downstairs and knew she could not avoid the confrontation with them.
"I was just exploring, you have a beautiful home." She recognized the young woman who had taken Kat upstairs earlier and the man as Nick, who Rachel had pointed out to her.
"The parties downstairs." Nick responded evenly.
"I know, but I just had to see the rest of the house." Claudia explained innocently but neither of the two studying her relaxed with that logical excuse.
"Nothing interesting down here, just personal quarters." Tangye said with a shake of her head.
"Of course, I'm sorry." Claudia started back the way she had come but the two didn't move from where they blocked the hallway. They stared at her with furrowed brows; her nervousness over being discovered seemed out of place. "Am I caught?" She asked, looking them both over. They didn't react but that was answer enough for her. "Okay, Rachel told me about the amulet you found today and it had me intrigued. Seeing something that so few have in hundreds of years. I just wanted a glimpse."
"It's locked up." Nick explained coldly. "We can show you back downstairs if you'd like."
"I think I can find my way." They finally each stepped aside allowing her to pass. A few feet from them though she turned back around. "It must be rather exciting for you. To get to hold these objects that other cultures once revered. To be the first to read the messages they have left. I envy you." She smiled and turned back through the doors, letting them fall shut behind her. Nick looked down at his companion and saw the same distrust on her face that he felt. He wasn't sure where exactly it came from but there was just something very out of place about her words.
"I want to make sure she goes downstairs." Tangye whispered taking Nick's hand and returning to the landing. When they got there Claudia had just made it to the bottom of the stairs but she did turn to look back up at those observing her movements. "That bothered you too right?" She asked without looking away from Claudia.
"I'm not sure why but yeah." Nick answered, leaning against the railing trying to place the moment when his aggravation that someone was wondering the house looking in all of their bedrooms became suspicion over their motives.
"It's just a necklace, why does she think it was revered?" Tangye recalled her words. If Rachel had told her about what they found, which was a big if in her opinion, there was no reason to describe it in such a way. For now they didn't know anything about it but she had the impression that Claudia did.
Nick sighed, knowing what they had to do. "I'll scan it into the computer and print you out an image. You get to work on the translation, I'll date it and figure out where it came from." He tapped his hand against the railing feeling another long night in the Legacy house coming up. Tangye nodded her approval at that idea, feeling an urgency to know what they had brought into the house. She didn't have anything concrete to say that there was anything wrong with Claudia's exploration but Nick's nervousness about it gave her reason enough not just to dismiss it. They had to trust their instincts on these things and if they were wrong they could apologize later. She just didn't believe that they were wrong.
"Miss Moreau, if you wouldn't mind telling me where the bathroom is." Alex turned the corner that Raymond had just gone around a few seconds behind him, but he was waiting for her.
Alex tried to hide her shock over the fact that he had known she was behind him but didn't do a very good job as she struggled to give him an answer. "Of course, it's back off the main hall. Actually you passed it on your way here, by the kitchen." Alex pointed over her shoulder.
"Thank you, it's like a maze in here, I don't see how you don't get lost." He explained with a small laugh as he went past her to retrace his steps. "But it's fascinating all the same. I'm surprised the Dr. Rayne chooses to keep so many artifacts in the house." He stopped to admire one of the wall hangings that was fraying along the edges depicting some battle from the past. "English, around the fifteenth century if I'm not mistaken." He observed.
"Yes, I'm impressed." Alex nodded in shock.
"A beautiful piece, it hasn't ever been restored has it? Probably just as it was when it was given to you." He reached up and gently touched the woven fabric. "The Legacy really does get some stunning pieces." Alex's eyes shot open hearing that single word. Raymond threw her a sly smile. "I got involved about two years ago in Chicago. A patient was brought in and there was no way to explain his condition without letting me in on the secret. I'm very clear on the rules."
"Does Derek know?" Alex stammered not sure how to react. It was obvious that the man knew what he was talking about yet she never liked it when someone just blurted out knowledge of the Legacy. She was so accustomed to keeping it a secret she was always taken off guard when someone knew about them without her being warned that they would.
"Not yet, but I'm sure you'll tell him. I've done some consulting I suppose you'd call it. I'm a bit of a house physician for the Chicago house." Alex nodded at the explanation still studying the man with hesitancy. The story made sense but she just wasn't sure how to react to someone walking in the house without warning from anyone in the Legacy of his presence. Of course he was a friend of Rachel's from years ago and that was what brought him here tonight. Or that was at least what he said brought him to the party, but something about it was a bit too convenient.
"Are we overreacting?" Tangye asked as Nick put the medallion down on the table to be scanned. He came back around to join her where she sat at the computer now wearing a pair of silk pajamas and a robe. She had insisted that if she was going to be up most of the night translating she was going to be comfortable so they had taken a few minutes to change.
"I'd rather over then under." Nick responded tapping in the commands for the scan to run and load the images into the computer. He then went back and flipped the object over to scan the other side.
"But what do we really know? She was exploring, made a comment that seemed out of place and we're going to stay up all night playing with a necklace because of that?" She laid her head down on her folded arms watching him. "Rachel's not going to like it if she finds out what we're up to."
"Rachel won't know until we know something concrete." Nick informed her, knowing full well what Rachel's reaction would be to their suspicions. "I know we might be jumping to conclusions, but I don't like it. She shows up at Rachel's today, gets invited to the party and then starts exploring our rooms."
"She was just peaking in." Tangye justified to play devil's advocate. She just wanted to be sure they weren't going to upset Rachel for nothing.
Nick leaned back in his chair, staring up at the ceiling. "Do you not want to do this?"
Tangye looked over at him with guilt. They were both tired and their irritability was bound to grow as the evening pressed on into the dead of night, she didn't have to make a bad situation worse by trying to dissuade him from an activity she had as much to do with as he did. "Let me have the printout."
"How long do you think it will take?" Nick asked sliding the sheets over to her.
"I don't really know. The backs a mess whatever it's written in. Whoever engraved it didn't have much skill. The front, I have no clue what it could be. I'd say awhile." She stood up with the sheets to go into the library. "Let me know if you find anything out that might help." Nick nodded at her looking down at the object in his hands. Before Tangye made it out of the room Alex entered through the hologram.
"What are you two up to?" She asked, glancing at their attire and tired faces. She had come up after saying goodnight to Gilby wanting to check on things up in the control room. She had not had the opportunity to talk to Derek about what she learned about Raymond since the precept was still surrounded by lingering guests so she decided to occupy herself until they left.
"Research." Tangye answered with a deep sigh. "We ran into Rachel's little friend upstairs. She was asking a lot of questions about this thing and it got us interested in what it is."
"Raymond?" Alex asked, surprised that they might too have had an encounter with him.
"No Claudia, why?" Nick asked looking up at her, knowing the tone of her voice well enough. Something had her bothered as well.
"Because I just ran into Raymond in one of the back halls downstairs. He didn't say anything about the amulet but he mentioned the Legacy." Alex explained confused by what was suddenly in their house.
"What?" Nick stared at her shocked, not believing what he was hearing.
"He's evidently works with the Chicago house as a physician. I noticed him wandering off from the party and followed him." Alex paused, recalling that Raymond had known she was behind him. "He knew I was there. I talked to him for a minute and he mentioned his affiliation with the Legacy. Did Claudia say anything about it?" Alex asked, looking over both their faces for a reaction and seeing one similar to the shock that she felt.
"Not a word." Nick shook his head. "She mentioned the amulet. Said Rachel told her about it and she wanted to get a look at it. She said she envied our opportunity to be the first to read the message it left." Nick explained thinking over the brief encounter.
"Rachel doesn't know about it." Alex said with a shake of her head. "Remember she got here right before the party. She knows there is an amulet but she doesn't know the details. That there's a translation to be done." Alex took a seat. "You showed it to Kat didn't you?"
"Yeah, but Kat went to bed right after that. I don't think she ever came back down, I didn't see her anyway." Tangye answered. "But Claudia did know it was upstairs, she saw Kat and I come up here when we told Rachel we were going to go look at it."
"She admitted to wanting to see it." Nick added.
"Right, when she was caught." Alex justified. She probably didn't have much of choice with the two of them facing her down, and she may have even been hoping they would let her see it if she asked. "Did you see her come up here?"
"No, I would have stopped her, why?" Nick answered shaking his head.
"Because I saw Raymond sneak off from the party. It looked like he was trying to sneak off, but not without being noticed." Alex remembered how he had checked over his shoulder several times. At first she had thought it was to make sure he wasn't being followed, now she wondered if he hadn't been making sure he was.
"You think he lead you away so he could tell you he knows about the Legacy?" Tangye asked, taking a seat on the table. "What to build confidence in him? Make us trust him because he knows?"
"I'm not sure. But if she knows about the amulet and Rachel doesn't then something is going on here. Try to figure out what the thing is. I'm going to go talk to Derek, see if he would like to invite our friends to stay the night." Alex said, raising her eyebrows slightly.
"Raymond, if I could speak with you for a moment?" Derek stepped into the room where Rachel was visiting with her two friends. Everyone else had finally left for the night and Alex had been given the chance to talk to Derek about what she learned about Raymond and the suspicions she had discussed with the others upstairs. Derek had been equally shocked by the revelation that Raymond was involved with the Legacy and requested that Alex start looking into the validity of the claim. Until she came back with the answers he wanted to talk to the man himself. See if he could gain any insight into what he was doing in the house under what felt like a ruse and what if anything he might know about the amulet.
"Of course, Dr. Rayne." Raymond stood up to join Derek in the other room. Rachel shot Derek a warning glance, telling him clearly that she didn't want him to make her friend feel uncomfortable. Derek ignored her deciding that he would rather deal with her annoyance at him then any possible fall out from looking the other way about Raymond. As soon as they stepped into the dining room Raymond stopped and looked at the precept. "I'm sure I can guess what this is all about and I assure you everything I told Miss Moreau was true. I also know you'll be checking on it."
"Yes we will. Why didn't you say anything if you knew where you were coming?" Raymond chuckled slightly at that comment.
"Because Dr. Rayne, Claudia doesn't know where we are. As far as she's concerned we are at the Luna Foundation's San Francisco headquarters." Raymond explained pulling out one of the chairs at the table and taking a seat. He seemed so relaxed, as if the whole situation amused him but Derek didn't share such an emotion.
"Do you know anything about what we found today?" Derek continued his line of questioning. From what Alex said they both knew and in fact had more information about the medallion then Rachel could have provided to them.
"An amulet." Raymond shrugged. "I'm sure you have the capability here to learn everything about it."
"Yes we do." Derek stood behind the chair at the head of the table, his hands gripping the wood back as he studied the man's calm demeanor. "But you don't know anything that you could tell us?"
"How could I Dr. Rayne?" Raymond turned some of Derek's curiosity back at him; his manner a bit annoyed that he was being questioned in such a way. "I promise you Dr. Rayne that you will find everything I told Alex is true, and that I am not a threat. I am here visiting a friend, not Legacy business. The amulet, whatever secret it holds or disappointment it might be, is yours. I'm not a member, merely an associate who helps out when I can." His voice was even as he explained his position to Derek but somehow that made Derek worry more about him. Perhaps it was the lingering effect of what Liz had managed to pull over on him and his struggle not to allow such a thing to happen again but Derek wasn't going to discount the instinct.
"I'm sure that's true. I don't mean to make you uncomfortable, but as you know we must be careful." Derek smiled, hoping to relax a bit of Raymond's tension.
"Of course, the Legacy must be protected." Raymond agreed.
"Exactly." Derek stepped down, still not trusting the man but not wanting his distrust to be so evident. Raymond had remained silent most of the night, talking to a scarce few people who he had known when he was still living in San Francisco. He had not been bold asking questions about the house or its members but he could already have that information. Despite all of the innocence Raymond portrayed Derek felt he was facing an adversary who knew just what he was doing. Raymond was not apt to make a mistake, at least not something blatantly obvious. Just as Alex had said, he wanted to be caught exploring the house and he had done so without any subtlety. He had ensured that he would be found so he could tell her that he knew about the Legacy, and he was prepared for the reaction that would cause in the house. Derek forced a friendly smile onto his face as he stepped back up to the man extending his hand. "Rachel will be spending the night here, I hope you'll accept my invitation to do the same."
"If it will make you feel more at ease having me close." Raymond shook the offered hand with a nod. He wasn't falling for anything Derek might try to pull over on him. Derek just hoped that they could figure out what his purpose was here, good or bad, before he had a chance to surprise them with it.
Derek had done his best to put on a pleasant air as he sat with Rachel and her two friends visiting in the downstairs study. He had wanted to keep a personal eye on Raymond and study any mannerisms he might have that could give away an alternative purpose for his visit. He had not yet read anything that stood out but that did little to dispel the suspicion that Alex had built in him with a few words. He was full of friendly smiles for Rachel as she spoke about Kat and her work at the hospital. He had plenty of questions but none of them could be considered out of line. He didn't appear to be digging for information of any sort but Derek doubted he would in his presence. He wondered how many different turns this conversation might have taken if he had left Rachel alone with the pair.
He had stopped listen to the chitchat quite some time ago and was relieved when Nick arrived at the doorway providing an interruption. "Derek, could I talk to you for a few minutes?" Nick coughed once to announce himself and then nodded in the direction of the door. He shot Rachel a quick smile and then looked up at the clock. "Burning the midnight oil aren't we?" He teased.
"You're one to talk." Rachel kidded back at him. "I honestly hadn't even realized that it was this late. We should go up. I can show you to your rooms while the boys play." Rachel motioned in the direction of the foyer. "You can borrow some of my clothes for the night Claudia, and Derek would you mind?" She asked with a glance at Raymond.
"No not at all. They are in the third drawer of my dresser." He joined Nick at the door and let the others pass and get to the stairs before they spoke. "You've learned something?"
"Plenty, surprisingly." Nick nodded. "It'll be easier if we show it to you, and you aren't going to like it." Nick warned as they too went up the stairs using those on the other side of the hall so to keep some privacy. Derek sighed to himself knowing that Nick rarely exaggerated when it came to information that Derek wouldn't like to learn. The party may have managed to go off without a hitch but the hours after were proving to be much more difficult. They walked the rest of the way to the control room in silence, not wanting anyone to overhear what they were working on. They didn't know why Claudia and Raymond were in the house, and their suspicions would only anger Rachel.
When they stepped past the hologram Tangye turned to see them from where she was working at the computer. Alex was working over in the lab in the corner reviewing the information that Nick had managed to compile with the tests. "So they finally called it a night?" Tangye glanced at the camera that Nick had programmed to stay on the study so the researchers could keep watch on the visitors. Derek nodded wearily, wondering how far they were from doing the same
"Thankfully. How is the translation coming?" He stood beside her looking up at the projected image of the amulet on the screen.
"Done actually. Color me shocked." She took a sip of her coffee tapping a few keys so the image spun to show the front of the medallion. "This seems to be a version of Native American writing used in this part of the country, fairly pictograph oriented. I don't know it offhand, but I did manage to find a few examples of it in the library. From what I can piece together, loosely translated it claims that the amulet can protect those who possess it. Along the bottom it looks to be indicating that it holds some sort of healing property, a power to dispel mortal curses." She looked up at Derek waiting for a response but he didn't offer one turning instead to Nick.
"Have you been able to date it or prove that it is from here?" He asked with his normal calm demeanor that he always carried when approaching a new case. First he would look at everything objectively and then make up his mind about what they needed to do about it.
"Yes to both." Nick nodded, crossing his arms over his chest. "The ore used is indigenous to this part of the country. Carbon dating shows it to be about three hundred years old. The mold we found on it indicates that at some point it was submerged under water for several years, which makes sense. The caves it was in once had an underground stream running under them. I can't say exactly how long it has been in there but I would guess about a hundred fifty years just due to the damage. The caves drained naturally over a hundred years ago. When miners first discovered them they were dry. The miners didn't locate anything worth their time though so they abandoned them. But the amulet had to be there then or some of this growth wouldn't have happened."
"And the stone?" Derek asked turning his attention back to the shining green orb.
"That I don't know. The computer can't seem to come up with a match which shouldn't happen." Nick shrugged as Alex joined them from the other side of the room.
"The spectograph did show some slight abnormality about it, what I can't say yet but if the translation is right and it can somehow heal people that could be it. The stone could be infused with some sort of mystical power." Alex handed Derek the printouts of the test that they had run. "Once we had all of that we started looking into our guests." Derek looked up from the readings, his eyebrows perking with curiosity.
"Remember when I said you weren't going to like what we found?" Nick asked, Derek nodded at him quickly. "This is what I meant."
Tangye tapped at the keyboard again pulling up the driver's licenses of their guests. "All indications are that they did meet Rachel under honest premises. Raymond worked at the same hospital, Claudia at a nearby coffee shop. They struck up a friendship, blah, blah, blah. None of that's interesting, just proves they were at one point innocent friends." She took another drink of her coffee before continuing. "Intrigue started about five years ago when they both suddenly left for Chicago."
Alex picked up the story for her. "Raymond started working there, Claudia seemed to be living off of someone never returning to work. There is no indication that they have a physical relationship but that could be hidden. They had separate homes, very few ties. Raymond had his run in with the Legacy and shortly thereafter they became very avid amateur archeologists. They started going on digs of Native American villages almost constantly."
"So they took up a hobby." Derek shrugged, wanting the details of why this mattered.
"One that could have been very profitable, but every time, when they left they also left artifacts. Nothing much but it's obvious they were looking for something in particular. The question is what? And we think we have that answer." She tapped at the computer again. "Actually, we think we have what they were looking for." Derek stared up shocked at the amulet.
"Explain." Derek took a seat. Alex walked around to the front of the table as she formulated how to relate everything they had managed to learn.
"Okay it's a little confusing. We traced all of this back to burning made on animal skin found about forty years ago. It was simple but the image is pretty familiar." Tangye complied with the request and brought up the picture. It was clearly a crude drawing of the amulet but then a knife had been taken to it, slashing up the image. "The man in possession of this said that it had been passed down in his family, that at some point a white man had come onto his ancestors village running from hunters and that this what he left. He claimed that days later three other white men had passed through the village hunting the first, saying that they needed something he had to stay alive."
"We managed to place the first village and that was where Claudia and Raymond's interest in archeology began." Nick explained. "We traced from there the explorations and found that at each one something had been uncovered with writing." Nick glanced at Tangye.
"Familiar writing actually." She again changed the image showing the back of the amulet alongside a piece of broken pottery uncovered at one of the sites. "Crude as it might be, and that's obviously due to the fact this artist was no artist, it's Latin if you can believe that. It's much better on the pottery, but that could be because he didn't have the tools to do the engraving. There are no other reports that he was ever actually seen in any of these villages but he left his mark on them. Claudia and Raymond have been following that path to the amulet. Until it dropped off. The last place we can be sure this man passed through was a village about three miles from where Nick and I found the amulet."
"Why do they have such an interest in it?" Derek asked, intrigued and impressed by the work the three had managed to get done in a matter of hours.
"Again, we are answer people." Tangye brought up the latest of their findings that Derek immediately recognized as a medical report.
Alex sighed beginning the next part. "David has evidently been treating two people in Chicago for cancer the last five years. Slow developing but neither has shown much improvement. In fact two years ago one of the patients was upgraded to a more stringent regime of chemo, eight months ago the other was as well. He recommended them to a hospital on the other side of town." Derek shook his head not sure where she was going with this.
"He is a doctor."
"Evidently a doctor treating dead people." Derek looked up at Nick shocked. "The patients have been dead for years, they're assumed names. Knowing what the amulet could do we figured he might be looking for a way to heal himself and Claudia of something, but when we didn't find anything on them we looked into a few of his patients. These two don't exist. They were both homeless people found frozen in the streets of Chicago years ago, but about the right age. They don't want anyone to know they're dying and these names allow them to hide that." Nick shook his head in disgust over what these two had done.
"If the amulet is capable of what you suggest " Derek began, not feeling it was right to turn it over to them but for the first time all night beginning to understand why they might be so desperately seeking the artifact. It could represent salvation for them; Tangye didn't let him get far with that thought as she returned the screen to the image of the back of the scrawled on piece.
"Except for the small print, it sounds like a great idea. What he, whoever he was, etched into the amulet was a common theme running through all the artifacts he wrote on and probably why he defaced the burning he did on the pelt." Tangye looked at Derek and then back to the writing it had taken her the better part of two hours to translate. "Surgeon General's Warning. Heals through death, transference, and the eyes I knew no longer match their souls. Nothing vanishes, just exchanged. That's what the amulet says, I pieced together some of the other messages and he brings up the exchange several times. He also keeps coming back to the fact that the men he knew are not the bodies hunting him. And then lastly he warns not give them a power source, a bridge to enact the transfer."
"It's a common enough theory, nothing vanishes, it merely moves or takes on a new form. It doesn't heal them it just moves them away from whatever 'mortal curse' they have. Switches a soul into a new body, a healthy one." Alex summed up. Derek looked them all over reading their varying reactions, from pity for the illness inflicting them and the desperation it must have brought forth to a very real anger that they would show such disregard for others lives.
"I want to know about this bridge this man mentions and see if you can find out what happened to him or who he might have been." Derek paused as he gave them the orders. "Why would it be written in Latin? If he feared it so much why not let the warning be understandable to anyone?"
"He was a scholar obviously, whoever he was. He probably assumed it was better that it fall into the hands of another educated person who would take the warning seriously, rather then give access to it to whomever might stumble upon it. I think he wanted to do whatever he could to keep it in the right hands." Alex explained, though she knew that even educated men could easily be swayed by the idea of eternal life.
"Okay, we'll work in shifts and try to get some sleep. I want to also keep an eye on their rooms from here, make sure they don't go wandering again and if they do we stop them." Derek stood up stretching dreading explaining all of this to Rachel in the morning. She would be furious that they had looked into the backgrounds of her friends but hopefully she listened to their reasons.
Rachel woke the next morning to Kat's insistent knocking at her door. She rolled over and glanced at the clock through bleary eyes to see that it was eight thirty. She sat up begrudgingly and reached out for her robe, pulling it around herself already tasting that first cup of coffee in anticipation. They had not made it upstairs until nearly three in the morning and the short six hours of sleep just wasn't enough for her. She resolved to rise, knowing it would be rude if Claudia or Raymond did before she did and were forced to face the Legacy members. She had been able to read Derek's aversion to Raymond the previous night and didn't want to leave her friend alone with that. She also hoped to catch Derek before they woke and talk about his behavior. He needed to learn not to suspect everyone that walked into the house; some people could still be trusted.
"I'm up Kat. I'm up." Rachel called out to put an end to her daughter's knocking. With that announcement Kat came bounding in the room and jumped up on the bed. Rachel envied her daughter the good night sleep she had managed.
"Last night was a lot of fun wasn't it." Kat asked happily.
"Yep, it was and you behaved very well." Rachel complimented her. She had been very impressed by the eleven year old girl who behaved better then many of the adults who had done less to hide their boredom. She had counted several times when Nick, Gilby or Tangye wandered off in the course of the night, many times in pairs to look less conspicuous. "Is anyone else up yet?"
"I just saw Derek in the hallway, he was coming from the library, I don't think he went to bed yet." Kat explained though he had changed out of his tuxedo. "They probably all stayed up to work on the necklace, I wish I could have helped."
"You can check with Alex later, and see if she needs your help." Rachel offered knowing how much Kat enjoyed feeling like one of the adults working on priceless artifacts. Alex always did her best to allow Kat to help and learn, which Rachel did appreciate. "Why don't you go downstairs and see what Melissa has for breakfast while I take a shower?"
"I went, no one's there." Kat answered with a shrug. Rachel remembered hearing Derek give the staff the day off after the party had ended. "Why don't we make breakfast for everyone?"
"They may not be up for hours." Rachel reminded. "But if you give me ten minutes, we can fix it for ourselves." Kat nodded enthusiastically bouncing back off the bed and out into the hall. Rachel dropped back onto the bed with a moan, wishing she would be allowed the sleep the others would be getting.
She didn't waste much time taking her shower or getting dressed, forcing herself to face the day and makeup for the sleep later. It was common enough working with the Legacy that she went nights with little or no sleep, yet it was not something she ever really adjusted to. She dragged herself down the hall, stopping at both Claudia and Raymond's doors to let them know she would meet the down in the dining room, sure that they remembered the location of it. While she and Kat prepared a small breakfast she found herself enjoying the private time with her daughter rather then dwelling on her exhaustion. Kat was just so full of life and happy to be allowed some time to spend with her mother that her mood quickly infected Rachel. Soon they were both laughing as they mixed the pancake batter and filled the kitchen with the smell of eggs, bacon and coffee. Kat helped her carry the modest breakfast down to the dining room, which also excited Kat since she normally ate at the breakfast table.
The mother and daughter settled in to wait for the others to join them and Kat began telling her mother about the adventure Tangye and Nick had the previous day and about how Gilby promised to take her someday to go horseback riding if it was okay with her. Rachel had completely got over her initial distrust of the man and readily agreed to let her daughter go, seeing the thrill in her eyes at the idea of spending a day with the handsome man. Rachel assumed that Alex would go along but was certain that even if they were alone Gilby would handle the crush carefully. He would shower Kat with the attention that she wanted but keep their relationship brotherly like Nick always had. Kat went on talking as they ate their breakfast, now telling her mother about her week at school.
"She's certainly a morning bird." Claudia commented walking in the room in another borrowed outfit from Rachel. She looked over at the serving dishes in place and then down at Kat. "Did you do all of this for me?" Kat shrugged indifferently obviously not wanting to be interrupted from her time with her mother.
"It's for everyone, they'll be up soon." She answered her voice low as she directed her attention down at her plate. Rachel apologized silently to Claudia for Kat's behavior as she took a seat with a plate of pancakes and a mug of coffee.