Megan Wilcoxson and Pete Lattimer
Prologue - April 12, 2017Edit
Mary Sparks was walking with her fiancé, John Seymore, through the National Archaeological Museum of Naples. They were enjoying the display of objects from ancient Greece, which always fascinated her. They were standing in front of a newer display, a celestial sphere uncovered last year in Greece.
"Look, honey!" she exclaimed as they came up to it. "According to the sign, it's likely that this was supposed to be part of a statue of Atlas, but that the statue broke and this is all that remained!"
"Yeah . . . ." John answered distractedly. Mary smiled. She knew he wasn't a huge fan of "old stuff", as he put it, but he was the one who got this for her. As boring as it was for him, she knew he wasn't doing it for his pleasure. Looking at him, she noticed he was looking towards the Farnese Atlas statue.
"Why would anyone try to hold up a globe?" he asked.
"Technically, it's the stars and sky," she answered. "Atlas was punished to hold it up as punishment for siding with the Titans during the Titanomachy, or the War of the Titans."
"Talk about an eternal punishment!" John said.
"It really was," Mary said. Suddenly, she realized two people were yelling at each other behind her, and before she knew what was happening, she felt someone get pushed into her. She fell forward towards the Sphere, placing her hands in front of her and on the sphere to keep her from falling. A strange tingling sensation came over her as she quickly lifted herself and turned around. Her husband, John, moved in front of her as two men were rolling on the ground, fighting viciously. Several security guards ran over to break them up.
"Are you alright?" John asked her.
"I'm fine," she answered. "Just a little startled. Why are they fighting?"
John listened to the screams and translated. "Apparently, that guy with the mustache had stolen the other guy's girlfriend in high school during a school dance. He never forgave him for it."
"Wow, talk about holding a grudge!"
"Tell me about it. Let's move to a different part of the museum while they deal with these two." As they walked away, Mary felt a light tingle again and could swear she smelled fudge. But the sensation quickly left, and the smell faded, and she enjoyed the rest of the day.
Chapter 1 - January 2018Edit
Pete Lattimer and Megan Wilcoxson were doing inventory in the Ovoid Quarantine. It had to be done more often, as the only person who could use the Fengi Spiral was Steve, and he could only do it so many times. Myka and Claudia were on a retrieval at a girl's club in Saudi Arabia, where they were attempting to collect several artifacts from the country while they had a rare opportunity, despite the possible troubles which could happen.
"I can't believe how much of the artifacts from Warehouse 2 are still in here!" Pete said. "It's been almost eight years since we brought them over! You'd think we'd have them all catalogued by now."
"Well, that's why we're here," Megan said. "We're here to log a lot of these old artifacts. Artie said he wants to try to move out some of these soon. Like this one." She picked up a box located by a painting, which had a comb hairpiece in it. "A comb which belonged to one Lucrezia Borgia."
"Wow, that brings back memories!" Pete said, walking over to it. "This was the first artifact Myka and I snagged when we were hired. I remember how hesitant she was about the whole situation."
"Weren't you hesitant?"
"Nah," Pete said. "I had just been put on leave anyway. Only because I was telling my supervisor about a bleeding bloodstone, and he thought I was high."
"A bleeding bloodstone?" Megan asked. "I'll admit, if I didn't have a job here, I'd say that sounds crazy. Should we find a place for this?"
"We probably should," Pete said, walking over to the computer. "Let's see . . . . What about the Council Chamber? She was a political figure."
Megan walked over. "Yeah, but she wasn't that well known. Besides, she wasn't so much a political figure as a political pawn. What about The Clothing Rack? Since it's a piece of jewelry?"
"I already tried that," a voice said from behind them. They turned around to see Artie walking up to them. "It didn't react well for some reason. It's aura is very . . . . peculiar. This artifact is going to be a difficult one to place."
"Well, I think we're up to the task!" Megan said proudly. "We'll figure out exactly where we can put it so it won't act up!"
"That will have to wait," Artie said, handing them a case file. "We've got a new ping that just came in from Braemar, Scotland."
"Ooooooh!" Megan exclaimed. "I've always wanted to go to Scotland!"
"It's not a sightseeing tour, you know," Artie chastised. "Anyway, there was a storm in the town two days ago. A tree was struck by lightning and fell onto a car. One person was injured, but the tree was preventing anyone from getting the man out. One woman who came to help was able to lift the entire tree by herself."
"That's quite an impressive feat!" Pete awed. "How much did it weigh?"
"The tree was twenty-five feet high. I don't know offhand how much weight that is, but it's definitely far beyond what humans can lift. So, off with you. I got you two tickets to Scotland. The plane leaves at eight tonight, so stop what you're doing and get moving."
"Alright, we're moving," Megan said. "Let's go, Pete!"
"Give me a minute," he said. "I'm going to put the Comb back."
"Alright, hurry!" she said, as she and Artie left the Quarantine.
Pete walked the Comb back over to the painting and set it down. As he turned to leave, he spotted a toy sitting out of the box. "Hey, I remember you! Megan and I tested out your abilities. That was pretty fun! And . . . . if I recall, you have strength on your side. Hmmmmm . . . . Surely Artie won't mind if I take you into the field. I mean, he has his bag of artifacts to help him." Pete placed the toy inside of a neutralizer bag and walked out of the Quarantine area.
After an eight hour flight (not counting the hours spent at customs and the connecting flight), Megan and Pete finally arrived in Scotland. After all the flying time, it didn't take long to reach Braemar. It was a small village with very rural surroundings, though surrounded by tall trees. And thankfully, being such a small place, it didn't take long at all to reach the home of Mary Seymore.
As the pair walked up to the home, the door opened, and a news reporter and a cameraman came out of the house. A man and woman walked out with them.
"Thank you so much for the interview again, Mrs. Seymore," the reporter said.
"It was no problem at all," Mary Seymore answered. "I just can't believe so many people are interested in what happened!"
"Well, it was a very unusual feat of human strength! You are being far too humble about this."
"Well, that's my wife for you," said the man next to her, presumably her husband John. "She's always so humble when she has any major accomplishments."
As they walked past, the reporter gave Megan and Pete a curious glance but continued walking. Pete gave her a glance of interest, but stopped after Megan nudged him in the ribs.
"Don't forget, you're dating Myka!" she scolded.
"That doesn't mean I can't appreciate someone who looks good!" Pete murmured.
"And let me guess," John said, seeing Megan and Pete walk up, "you guys are reporters too looking for an interview?"
"Actually, we're not," said Pete, pulling out his badge. "Secret Service, United States. We're here to ask you some questions."
"Why would the United States Secret Service want to ask me about a natural feat of strength?" Mary asked.
Megan looked at Pete. She knew he had experience with being an Agent a lot longer than she had by many years, but she had only been out of the country a couple of times, and she had only once seen Myka use the Secret Service badge. And that circumstance worked well; how would it work here?
"Well, that's the thing," Pete explained. "We don't believe it was . . natural strength. It just seems incredibly odd that you were able to lift something so massive on your own when several people tried and couldn't budge it. If you don't mind, we'd just like to ask you a few questions. My name is Pete, and this is my trainee, Megan."
John and Mary looked at each other for a moment, then stepped inside welcomingly. Megan and Pete were guided to the living room. Megan, John and Mary sat down while Pete looked around, picking up different knick-knacks. On Mary's offer of cookies and milk, Pete readily accepted.
"Megan, how about you ask some questions?" Pete said. "To get you some experience."
"A-alright," Megan said, a little hesitant. She thought for a moment before asking. "Have you guys encountered anything weird recently or obtained anything unusual?"
"No, I can't say we have," Mary said. "We've been here for the past eight months. I have an accounting job in London, but I haven't bought anything unusual."
"Neither have I, really," John agreed. "The only change is that we'll be having a baby, but not for another seven months or so."
"Awwww!" Megan said, unable to stop her heart from talking. "Congratulations, you two! Have you been married long?"
"We got married last March," Mary said, smiling. "We went to Italy on our honeymoon. It was so romantic! We visited so many museums!"
Pete perked his ears at this comment. He had noticed all of the older things in the room. Any one of them could be an artifact, but he couldn't just start bagging everything. And nothing was giving him a vibe, so . . . .
He gasped as he dropped a heavy sphere from the shelf, which landed with a thud. All three looked over at him, and he struggled to pick it up and place it carefully back onto the shelf.
"That is a really heavy baseball!" he said, trying to play it off.
Mary gave him a critical glare. "It's not a baseball, it's a marble sphere from the Greeks! I got it after a dig in southern Greece a few years back."
"She's a big archeological buff," John said. "She loves seeing old treasures from the past. I'm not a huge fan, but I thought she'd enjoy being in a place filled with history, so we went to the National Archaeological Museum of Naples."
"Yeah!" Mary agreed. "It was so much fun! They had a special exhibition of Greek artifacts! And there were a few that were recently uncovered too! Even the fight there didn't keep me from enjoying myself."
"A fight?" Pete asked, grabbing another cookie.
"It wasn't anything, really. Just a couple of guys getting into a brawl in the middle of the museum. So rude!"
"Was there anything that happened during that incident?" asked Megan.
"Well, I was shoved into a statue. Thankfully I didn't knock it over!"
Megan perked at this. "What kind of statue was it?"
"It was a newer statue. One uncovered in Greece last year, depicting Atlas holding his celestial sphere."
"Did you feel any different after that?" Pete asked.
"I can't say I did. Although there was that strange smell . . . . I'd say it was fudge."
"I see . . . ." Megan looked at Pete. "Well, is there anything else you'd like to ask, Pete?"
"Yes, actually!" Pete said, coming over and sitting down with a very serious look on his face. He paused for a moment. "These are the best cookies I have had in a while! What's your secret?"
Mary looked surprised at the question. "Oh! Why . . . . just a touch of maple syrup."
Pete smiled. "Wow! Seriously, absolutely delicious! Thank you so much!"
As they left the house, a bag of cookies in tow, Megan looked at Pete. "What do you think? A museum seems like a place for artifacts, huh?"
Pete agreed, reminded of his own experience with museum artifacts. "We should call Artie. Maybe he has some clues about what the artifact could be."
"A statue of Atlas?" Artie asked.