Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 7 part 1.21

Posted by harmony0stars on April 8, 2011

Steiner frowned at that but didn’t dignify her question with a response. Reaching into his briefcase, he removed a picture and set it on the table between them. “Do you recognize any of these symbols?”

“Yes.”

“You do?” he asked with sudden excitement.

“They were the symbols the little girl was drawing on the glass. I’m surprised they showed up so well, everything considered.”

He scowled. “If you’re not going to take this seriously…” he began, making Glory smile.

“I am taking this seriously. You want to dismiss my tattoos as delusion and then ask me about these symbols here. Maybe I do recognize them, but what difference does it make if I tell you they have magical significance?”

“It’s not the same thing at all,” he said sullenly.

“It is exactly the same thing,” she said in a gentle tone. “Seriously, I know Bitman knows more about me than I’m comfortable with. Didn’t he tell you anything about me? Like why I’m covered head to foot in tattoos or why all the windows and doors to my house are warded with protective symbols just like I am?”

“I saw the pictures he took of the molding around your dining room window,” Steiner said grudgingly.

Ah, that was a relief. All he’d been doing was taking pictures. “But you, personally don’t believe they have any power, despite your little Jedi mind trick.”

He colored. “That’s different. It’s some kind of mutation. Dr A says I have a benign tumor.” He sounded smug.

“Dr A?”

“All our doctors get a letter for their name. Dr A is the doctor you met yesterday. She’s head of our medical science division,” he stopped abruptly as if unsure whether he’d said too much.

“And all the agents get new age author code names,” she said with a smirk. “So what would my name be, and if you say Sylvia Browne, I’ll kick you in the shins.”

“Can we please just get back to the picture?” Having to beg was probably particularly galling when he would normally have just pushed her into cooperating.

“Yes, I recognize the symbols,” she said with a sigh. She didn’t want to trust the Colonel, but Professor Scott seemed like the more erratic of the two. At least she was almost certain the Colonel could be reasoned with; his men were loyal and didn’t seem to be afraid of him. Scott on the other hand, she’d yet to meet anyone who didn’t seem a little frightened of him. And it was hard to trust someone who put his own flesh and blood in danger. “They’re from an ancient artifact, and if m- this thing is looking for it, then it’s not the only one.”

“What were you going to say?” he asked, cocking his head to the side.

“Nothing, I’m just hesitant to talk about this. No offense, but I don’t entirely trust your people.” She paused, remembering his ability to read the truth from the car. If he realized she was lying though, he didn‘t let on. “This is at least something I know about. Only because… I have a newspaper clipping service that collects suspicious information for me, but there have been a series of break-ins at museums across the world, and while I can’t confirm what, if anything was taken at all of them… since I have no credentials and they won’t talk to me, this symbol,” she tapped the photo, “was on a stone in our museum here and has since gone missing. It’s part of what’s known as the Black Stone.”

“The Black Stone…” Steiner said skeptically, taking the photo back and sketching the symbol she’d indicated in his notes.

“There’s not a lot known about. What I do know comes from a visit to Miskatonic. The Black Stone was instrumental in the sinking of Atlantis.”

He gave her an incredulous look. “Atlantis?”

“I know. I never really believed in it either, but that’s the story and more than one person seems to be looking for the lost pieces of the Stone.” Whether he believed her or not, he kept writing.

“How do you know more than one person is involved?” he asked.

Glory opened her mouth and shut it again. How did she know? It could have all been her father… but there was the guard, and the only way to convince Steiner was to admit her part in it. “Because I was at the museum the night it was broken into, and I saw the thing that came out of the guard as he died,” she said finally. “I took the piece he was trying to steal himself so no matter how many pieces anyone else collected, they‘d be shy at least that one.”

Steiner stared at her, tapping his pen against the page. “What came out of the guard?” he finally asked as he settled on the question he wanted to ask first.

“It was some kind of albino slug or worm,” she replied without giving the thing its proper name. The last thing she wanted to do was explain about Phoenix and the information he’d shared with her. “He wasn’t like the things you’ve been dealing with. He was working with the thing.”

“Why do you say that?” He didn’t seem at all disturbed by her description, and Glory had a sinking feeling her father and the Revenants weren’t the only non-human intelligences Bitman’s “Company” knew about.

“Well, he asked himself questions and answered himself as if they were partners, rather than host and parasite.”

He scribbled down her answer, his brow wrinkled thoughtfully. “So how did the guard end up burned?”

“You already knew about the museum,” she said irritably.

“Yeah, Redfield and I investigated it because of the video footage,” he replied. “I believe you were there… because I’d know if you were lying, but there’s no way you burned that guard by yourself. Was it your invisible accomplice?”

“Did anyone ever tell you that you have this innate talent for making people angry?” she asked.

“Yeah, both my ex-wives,” he replied, smiling for the first time. “You didn’t answer the question.”

“My only accomplice was a cat.” She pushed away from the table and stood. Phoenix had been sharing her body at the time, but technically there‘d been no one else at the museum. Glory wondered if Steiner would pick up on the almost fib. “I’ll be right back. Have some water. Take pictures of the woodwork or windows if you feel like it.”

to Book 7, pat 1, page 22

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