Space rep: ALL of them?
Liza: No, just two: Richard and Marian. No one but me would think it clever to send nine characters to be interviewed.
Space Rep: Yeah that was a space poop move.
Liza: Why don't you search Corrina's ship and see if you can find the buy links.
Space Rep: And what your planning to do?
Liza: Interview of course!
Liza: First, I have questions for Richard.
When and why did you leave the Immortal court and your family?
Richard: I prefer not to talk about it. That is a private matter. Suffice to say, it was clear that my opinions were not valued by the members of the court. They wanted to go in a wrong-headed direction and I didn’t wish to follow them.
Liza: Do you often call old men ‘a child’ or were you just annoyed with Marian’s grandfather?
Richard: Old men who haven’t learned how to move past childish posturing, especially intimidating those they should love, are children.
Liza: Is this Mad Monk of Russia that you and Marian track down by any chance Putin?
Richard: No, not that I know of right now. Putin appears to be interested in political power, rather than other sorts. But he also strikes me as a child, always showing off, always having to prove he’s the one in charge. He may have some part to play in it.
Liza: Exactly how old are you?
Richard: Five hundred and forty two years old, as of this month. Hmm…that does seem old, does it not?
Liza: Do you have trouble keeping abreast of modern technologies? Clothing styles? Current customs & laws?
Richard: It’s harder to stay with the world if you isolate yourself from regular humans. The court does that and, as a result, they can be out of touch. But I live in California among surfers and at least keep up with them. It's impossible to keep up with everything. Your question assumes that there is one clothing style to remember when, in reality, there are a dizzying number of modern styles. I pick one, that makes everything so much easier. Laws, I ignore unless they infringe on how I want to live. The basics of not destroying another person are similar. It astounds me how much English common law is still used these days, though such things as driver’s licenses and identification cards confound me.
Liza: You are very handsome. Do you ever seduce mortal humans? Could they have a child from you?
Richard: Thank you, though that is a very personal question. I do not seduce women; mostly, I let them seduce me. That assures me they’re absolutely interested because, as you mention, I’m not always up on modern rituals, especially courtship. Letting the woman lead the way makes it so much easier. It also helps to ask them what they want. A trick my late brother never learned.
As for children, that is unlikely. Immortals such as myself seem to have great difficulty fathering children. It may be that our genetics degrade to such an extent over time as to make that difficult.
Liza: When was the last time you had a serious girlfriend?
Richard: Mmmn….now you make me think. It has been a very long time and she wasn’t an ordinary human, she was a member of the court, someone gifted with telekinesis. But, unfortunately, she was not gifted with immortality. She had the kindest soul of anyone I’ve ever known and she was so determined to put what she called “God’s gift” to use. I learned so much from Elsabeth.
That was two hundred years ago. No one serious since. Next question.
Liza: What traits of Marianne annoys you and what traits do you like?
Richard: Marian doesn’t annoy me; I just wish to see her true self and I don’t have time to waste while she decides to trust me. It is clear that she is being squashed by her grandfather and has some resentment built up. I need her mind clear for our task.
Liza: What’s the best memory of your childhood?
Richard: Ah, that is asking me to think very far back, in the dim recesses of memory. Perhaps the day my father stirred enough to take us hunting. He drank too much, ate too much and was in good humor with myself and my brother the entire time. My father, Edward IV loved life, a little too much. Perhaps a day after that, when all looked lost, was when Marshal showed up to help my brother and me survive. It was the start of a new life, one filled with wonders.
Liza: Thank you. Now if you don't mind, go sit in the soundproof booth while I question Marian.
*Richard leaves and Marian sits, eyeing Liza with caution*
Liza: Can you discuss your relationship with your grandfather? Richard seems to think you don’t like him.
Marian: I’m the only Doyle with the phantom ability in my generation. My grandfather wants to control that ability and therefore control me. He sees the family as his obligation and I’m just a cog in that wheel. It’s frustrating, overwhelming and difficult to have your opinions disregarded.
Liza: How did you feel when Richard shows up telling you all about yourself based on the items in your office?
Marian: It was..disconcerting. But I can’t deny he was right.
Liza: I understand you are a mortal human with a genetic anomaly that enables you to manipulate molecules so that you walk through walls. When did you realize you had this skill?
Marian: This ability is genetic, so every Doyle child is watched closely to see if it manifests, usually around adolescence. I got my period and turned intangible for the first time on the same day, which was memorable, to say the least. Luckily, my great-aunt was able to teach me how to use my ability without danger.
Liza: How have you used your gift in the past?
Marian: Mostly in the service of the firm to bring certain items in for certain collectors through back channels. No, that’s how my grandfather would put it. I’ll say it plainer: I smuggle illegal artifacts for our clients.
I’ll also admit it makes my life a lot easier if I lose my house or my car keys. J I like my ability. I’m just growing increasingly unhappy with how it’s being used.
Liza: How do you plan to use your gift for this case?
Marian: Richard wants to find an object thought long lost to time. Many times, artifacts are buried at historic sites or at sites that are unsafe for architectural digs. My phantom ability lets me explore these areas without disturbing their history. Once we find the general area where our item is located, then it’s up to me to literally lay hands on it.
List Richard’s good and bad points.
Marian: He stood up to my grandfather for me. He’s intelligent and he obviously notices all the little things. I like a man who notices.
Oh, and he looks like a fairy prince out of some tale. Damn.
He often keeps his own counsel and obviously doesn’t trust easily.
Liza: Do you think Richard has acclimated well to modern society?
Marian: He certainly seems to move freely in it but he keeps a certain distance, too. I’d say he’s learned to exist in it but not be completely part of it. In that, he’s not unlike some of the very rich clients our firm represents.
Liza: What’s your biggest challenge with Richard and this case?
Marian: The item he needs me to retrieve may not exist. And I can see Richard is going to have his own ideas on how to do my job.
Liza: Do you consider yourself brave and confident?
Marian: No. All the dangerous things I’ve done in my life have been because my family obligation demanded it. If I were brave, I’d learn to stand up for myself. I’m confident about my knowledge of European history and how to use my ability, at least.
Liza: What is the best childhood memory of your life?
Marian: Oh! Right after my phantom ability manifested, my sister and I spent the summer with my great-aunt Eunice and her big, empty home in Newport, Rhode Island. We had such fun exploring that summer. My aunt would give me lessons in the morning on becoming a phantom and then sent us free to roam. I was thirteen, my sister Jenn was fifteen. The best summer of my life.
Liza: Well, that’s a lovely place to stop. Thank you for your well-considered replies. Now let's find out more about this book.
William Doyle Antiquities was exactly as Richard pictured it would be.
The firm was located in a three-story brownstone on a quiet street in midtown New York City. The solid wood door with the gilded decorations, the entrance room with all the European antiques on display, and the museum room showcasing swords older than even he was were just as expected.
His host, William Doyle, the current head of the family, clearly was proud of the place. Perhaps it impressed most of their regular clients, especially given these items were rare and valuable. It had been a long time since Richard had viewed a true Knights Templar standard and this one was in fine shape for its age. Marshal would like it, but it was from before Richard’s time.
The only element that made the visit worthwhile so far was the young woman in Doyle’s shadow, who had been introduced as his granddaughter, Marian. The one said to possess this phantom talent.
Marian’s clothes reflected the image her family’s company wanted to convey. Her tight skirt and matching gray tweed jacket were almost severe. The white blouse blended in with no sign of personality. Yet she was the most important member of her family firm. Why did she seem so submissive?
That would never do.
She did have rather nice curly hair, which, Richard judged, she had taken some pains to get under control. He suspected that was a continual battle. Once or twice, he caught her bored glance as her grandfather droned on about the Doyle history. The man was boring both of them.
William Doyle wanted to show off. And Marian knew it. Perhaps was even used to it. She might prove to be interesting after all. Marshal had waxed poetic about how valuable the phantom power could be. Richard was eager to see Marian demonstrate it. Getting her away from this officious fool was the first step.
Doyle halted at the bottom of the steps to the second floor. Richard hadn’t heard what he’d said for some time. It wasn’t important.
“Thank you for the tour, Mr. Doyle, but I need to discuss business with your granddaughter now. You must be very busy running this place. I won’t take up more of your time.”
Doyle cleared his throat. He knew he was being dismissed.
“As the head of the firm, I must attend all meetings for such an important client, sir, to ensure all is done properly.”
“As a representative of your oldest and most longstanding patron, I must insist on doing this my way. Unless you’d like me to report to the Court that your services are unsatisfactory?”
Doyle stepped back. “I didn’t mean to question your judgment. I only point out that my granddaughter is young to take this on alone.”
“From my perspective you’re just a child yourself, Mr. Doyle. Should I become dissatisfied with Ms. Doyle’s services, I’ll let you know. Now, let’s get to work.”
He motioned for Marian to precede him up the steps. They left Doyle at the bottom. Richard was tempted to turn around to see if the man had his mouth hanging open in shock. Richard resisted the temptation. That would be unseemly. Instead, he studied Marian, infinitely more interesting. The skirt hugged her backside. She had shapely calves too. A runner, perhaps? Her shoes were flats. Practical. Even less showy than the white blouse, especially since heels would have showcased those lovely legs. She wore little make-up. That might fit with her role as dutiful scion of a stuffy house, but he wondered if this woman had any color at all. What kind of bathing suit would she wear to a beach? Would she even like the water? She opened the door to her office. Ah, this was better.
The large picture window behind her desk let in abundant light. The walls were painted a warm blue color. The shelves to the left of her desk were filled with Native American items, along with a few framed photos of someone he guessed was her sister. The desk was modern and reminded him of something from an Apple store.
He strolled over and picked up an arrowhead from one of her shelves. Stone, yes, but the design wasn’t too different from the arrowheads of his time.
“Please be careful with that, sir.”
“You seem beat.”
“No, I’m not tired,” she said.
“Not tired. Beat. Worn out, in more ways than one. Maybe by your grandfather.” He examined a carved wooden pipe. It smelled like packed dirt. Perhaps that was where it had lain for years before being discovered. “These aren’t European.”
“Native American. I have a particular interest in the subject.”
“And not in the European historical objects that are a specialty of your house?”
“I’m well versed in those as well, Mr. Genet.” She cleared her throat. “Please be careful with the pipe. It’s fragile.”
“You don’t like your family much, do you, Miss Doyle?”
“What?” She crossed her arms over her chest.
He pointed to the framed photo of Marian and the younger woman. “Okay, not all of your family. You at least like your sister, yes?”
“Mr. Genet, please stop—”
“It’s your grandfather who’s the problem. A true asshole.”
“I was under the impression we would discuss business, not family relationships,” she snapped.
Aha. He’d pushed her enough to get a real emotion out of her. Good. “Call me Richard.” He settled in one of the two chairs that faced her desk, stretching
out his long legs, and gestured at her to take the seat across from him. This would go much better if they talked face to face rather than having her behind the desk.
“Richard, then.” She took the chair, but slowly, wary of him now. “What would ever give you the idea that I hate my grandfather?”
“Hate might be too strong. Trapped by him and the family legacy is more accurate. For example, you office is different from everything else in this building. That’s because this room is your escape.”
“Most certainly. You have considerable lighting in this office, making it open and airy, with no hint of the antiquarian atmosphere of the rest of the firm. Also, there isn’t one single thing of European origin in your office. Instead, it’s full of your personal interests, which seem to be the opposite of the rest of the Doyles. Whether you intend it or not, you’re making a clear statement to separate yourself from your family.”
“Are you sure you’re not Sherlock Holmes?” she said. “Though you’re dressed a lot differently.”
“So I am.” He smiled and read the degrees hanging on the wall, above the artifacts. Yes, she had the credentials he needed. “So, here you are, dealing with European antiques and listening to the boring dronings of your grandfather.”
“My relationship with my grandfather has no bearing on my ability to help you.”
“If you wish out of this job, say so. Resentment makes for bad relations.”
She glared. “I’ve said I would do what you required, and I will.”
“Family can warp a person, as I should know. I’ve been dealing with mine for over six hundred years.”
Her eyes widened. “I can’t imagine dealing with my grandfather for six hundred years.”
“Hah!” “I have heard tales of the Court of Immortals since I was a child,” she added. “I thought they were just tales.”
“You don’t believe them?”
“I’ve never met anyone with a psychic ability save myself and my great-aunt. And the stories about your court are pretty over the top.” “Someone with your ability should be less skeptical of someone with mine, Marian. Besides, there are plenty of people gifted with psychic talent.”
“Plenty? How many?” Aha. Now he’d caught her interest. Now he was more than just a job.
“More numerous than you’d guess. All immortals are physics, possessed of a telekinetic ability to heal themselves of injuries. It’s a type of mental molecule manipulation, just as the Doyle family trait of becoming a ghost manipulates molecules, though in a different way.”
“Ghost implies dead. I call it a phantom ability.”
“Whatever it’s called, it’s impressive. A good friend told me it was incredible to see.”
She leaned forward, her elbows on her knees. “Really?”
Was she so unused to compliments? “Truly. And this friend is not normally given to flowery praise. I would love to see a demonstration.” Marshal was not easy to impress.
“You doubt me?”
“I have to know your limits. We’ve a lot of a work to do together.” Lives depended on it. “I’m going to stake my life on your capabilities. Can you handle it?”
“Are you saying I’m a coward?”
“Are you?” Interesting. He hadn’t meant to insult her but obviously someone had recently or she wouldn’t be so touchy.