Harry walked into the lab, followed by Mike and Jack.
"Well?" he asked, his smug look stating what he thought the answer should be.
Josh Grant stood up and stretched tightened back muscles. "Nothing conclusive yet, Harry. Sorry."
Harry turned to the other two and nodded his head. "What did I tell you? It's the same old song, just another verse."
"Harry," Blair shook his head, "you've always been in a hurry to prove everything."
Mike snapped back at him, "Because no matter what, no one seems to do anything about our claims!"
Josh leaned his elbows on the lab table tiredly and shook his head. "Mike, we've checked out every claim that's come to us. I've even had you and Harry and Jack on the teams to check them out."
"But amazingly," Harry retorted snidely, "you come up with nothing each and every time! Even with us on the team pointing out possibilities! Coincidence? I don't think so!"
"You sound frustrated by the fact that the evidence doesn't support your claims," Sharon said softly.
"You're damned right I'm frustrated," Harry lashed out. "This was Quileute land! Just because they were pushed back by the Salish, Quinault and the others doesn't negate that fact! It's our land and we have a right to the money that Rainier has made!"
Sharon nodded. "I understand that. And if the evidence from the construction site backs up your claims, then the university, as well as the state, will work with the tribal council toward a settlement."
"And if there is no conclusive evidence?" Jack asked.
"If there is no conclusive evidence, then there's nothing much anyone can do to make the officials change the way things are," Sharon answered sadly.
"So I guess we'd better hope that the evidence shows something, right?" Harry asked.
"I guess you'd better," she agreed.
Brown got into his car and waited for Rafe to join him. As Henri buckled up he looked over at his partner.
"That place still gets to me," he confessed. "I hate to even go there."
"If it doesn't bother Blair, why should it bother us?" Rafe asked.
"I suppose you're right. Still…" Brown shrugged. "Where is Hairboy again?"
"He's supposed to be at the stacks today," Rafe reminded Brown. "Researching who knows what."
"Stacks?" Brown looked at his partner.
"Library," he supplied.
"Boring," Brown shuddered.
"To you and me," Rafe agreed. "Not to our own brainiac."
"So let's find him and offer him a late lunch," Henri suggested, tossing his cell phone to Rafe. "Even brainiacs have to eat."
"Sounds good to me," Rafe agreed as his partner pulled into traffic.
The six were sitting by around the lab table staring at the mask pieces. The look on the faces of the five that he could see were less than encouraging, Blair noted. At least they weren't yelling at each other any more.
"We sure as hell aren't getting anything done," Jack grumbled.
"No," Blair agreed grumpily, thinking of the lost research time, "we aren't."
The cell phone in his backpack rang at that moment. Blair shrugged in apology as he recovered the phone and moved away from the table.
Dan's voice sounded in his ear. "Hello, Blair."
"Oh hi, Dan," Blair sighed with relief. Perhaps now something could be accomplished.
"I've got some news about the bones we found on campus," Dan told him.
"Finally," Blair breathed.
"But it's not good."
"So just give it to me," Blair said resignedly.
"They're old," Dan told him. "Really old. I can't find any marrow to even try to get any kind of testing."
"So how old are they?"
"I can't say for sure," Dan's voice told him. "Hell, I can't even tell if they're Indian or Caucasian. All I know for sure is that they're all male."
"Damn," Blair swore. "I was hoping for more. But thanks, Dan."
"Hey!" Dan stopped him from hanging up. "I'm not done yet!"
"But if you can't tell who they are –"
"I can't," Dan said. "So I called Mark Tate. He's going to give me a hand in trying to find out more about our bodies."
"The forensic anthropologist? I mean, Rainier’s forensic anthropologist?"
"One and the same." Dan's voice sounded chipper. "We'll know soon enough if these folks are Native American or not. Probably a bit more too. He's helped us solve more than one problematic case when skeletal remains have been found."
"I sure hope he can figure out this one," Blair replied.
"So do I," Dan agreed. "This is one case that needs resolution really fast."
"Definitely," Blair agreed as they both cut the connection.
"Well?" Harry asked eagerly.
"Nothing conclusive," Blair shrugged.
"That's not too surprising, now is it?" Mike snorted.
Blair ignored him and looked at Harry. "He can tell they're really old, but he can't tell their ethnicity."
"So they could be Quileute?" Harry asked hopefully.
Blair shook his head. "Dan won't say one way or the other."
"No, Harry." Blair stared at the student. "It would be irresponsible for him to claim them as one thing when he can't prove it. I mean, how would you feel if he said they were Quileute, and then evidence came along to prove him wrong?"
"He's got a point, Harry," Jack noted. "But there should be a way that he can prove it one way or the other."
Blair nodded. "He's asked Dr. Tate to examine them."
"Dr. Tate?" Harry's eyes widened in surprise.
"Our Dr. Tate?" Jack added.
"Who's Dr. Tate?" Sharon asked.
"He's a forensic anthropologist here at Rainier," Blair explained. "He's going take a look at our John Does. Once he's through, we'll know for sure, one way or another, if they are or aren't Native Americans. Maybe even if they are Quileute."
"And once he proves them to be Native Americans?" Harry looked at Blair, then at Josh Grant.
"If he proves them to be Native American," Grant said calmly, "we'll deal with it."
Dan was still studying the bones, checking the height of each, marveling how each was barely as tall as Blair Sandburg, when the door opened and a tall, dark man was escorted into the room. The man easily stood a head above him and a bit thinner than Dan was. While Dan wore a few ornaments depicting his tribal heritage, Mark Tate wore considerably more and with great aplomb, all hearkening back to his African roots.
Dan's dark eyes crinkled in a grin as the two men clasped each other's arms.
"Been a while since I've been here with you," Mark remarked as he looked at the bones.
"And whose fault is that?"
"What can I say?" Mark shrugged. "Work is just too good right now. But this –" He waved his hands over the bones. "I just couldn't let someone else work on them. Not if they are Native Americans and can force the university to fork over cash to the Quileute."
"You just like to see the chancellor hand over money when she doesn't want to," Dan chuckled.
"That too." Mark turned his attention to the bones. "Pity that there isn't a way to bring them to my lab. I could do a lot of tests on them."
"But then I couldn't get you here so I could treat you to a free meal," Dan shrugged.
"True," Mark nodded. "Of course, this way, I'm the only one that got of the office."
"But as soon as you finish," Dan grinned, "I intend to leave the office early and treat you to that meal I mentioned."
Mark grinned back. "Then the sooner I can give you some sort of answer, the sooner we can both get some good food."
"Now, what can you tell me about our three friends here?"
Mark pursed his lips and bent to study the bones. He walked up one side of each table, and down the other, bending so that his face was mere inches from the bones. He would occasionally touch a bone, pull out a magnifying glass and study the bone, then move on.
Finally he stood up and looked at his friend.
"Well?" Dan asked.
"Okay, they're pretty old, as you well know," Mark began. "But I don't think they're as old as some folks might think they are. I doubt if they were embalmed or even buried in a coffin. Probably they were just placed in a plain box or even directly in the ground."
"Really?" Dan picked up the glass and moved closer to the bones to study them.
"It led to more weathering of the bones, aging them, and making them seem older," Mark continued.
"Well, they were found at that construction site," Dan reminded him.
"Yeah, so I heard," Mark grinned. "I also heard it kicked up a bit a ruckus on the campus and put Edwards' panties in a wad."
"I can believe that," Dan grinned back.
"Of course, it was nothing like some of the uproars we used to get involved in," Mark added. "And Edwards' little hissy fits are nothing compared to the fits we used to give our chancellor."
Dan snickered at the memory. "Hell, these kids don't know how to stage a decent protest."
"Tell me about it." Mark shook his head. "Sometimes I just wanna get back out there and show them how to do it right."
"So," Mark leaned on a table and looked at the skeletons, "some young hotheads think these fellows are going to prove that Rainier is sitting on Indian land?"
"They hope," Dan nodded. "Unofficially, so do I."
"Well," Mark picked up the skull he was looking at and stared at the empty eye sockets, "alas, poor Yorick." He turned his gaze to Dan. "Ain't gonna happen."
"Damn," Dan swore.
"Well, not today, anyway," Mark added.
"They're not Indian?"
Mark shook his head. "Nope." He held the skull so Dan could see items as he pointed them out, then pointed to the other two skulls. "Look at the cheekbones. They're recessive. A Native American's would be more forward projecting. And look at the eye sockets." He tapped the lower edge of the area in question with a pen.
"I'm looking." Dan looked first at them, then at Mark. "Now tell me what I'm looking for."
"They aren't circular," Mark said. "If they were Native American like you, they'd be rounder. And if they were some of my brothers, they'd be more rectangular." He tapped the top of the nasal arch. "See this?" Dan nodded. "It's called a metopic suture. It's only seen in Caucasians. Not Native Americans. Not African Americans. Not Asians. Only the White Man."
"Seems pretty conclusive," Dan sighed sadly.
"Oh there's more." Mark put the skull reverently back into position, and moved down the body. "Take a look at the femur."
"Again, what am I looking for?" Dan asked.
"They're not straight like an African-American's would be and they aren't as curved as the Indians."
"So, we have three Caucasian men here." Dan looked at the bones and then at Mark.
"That's right. Three very white men."
"So how the hell did they get into the middle of Rainier University with Native American artifacts?" Dan demanded.
"Sorry, but that's a little outside my area of expertise," Mark snorted.
"Mine too," Dan agreed as he picked up the phone. "Wonder if it's out of Blair's?
Harry paced the length of the room, stopped at the blackboard, stared out the window for a few seconds then turned and paced the entire length again to the back wall. He did this several times, then changed directions, pacing alongside the blackboard to the inner wall and then back toward the windows.
Mike was sitting at a lab table, staring out the window, trying not to follow his friend's pacing in the room. Jack sat next to Mike, reading an anthropology journal. Sharon sat across from Josh, who continued to work on the mask pieces.
Blair sat behind the instructor's desk drumming his fingers on the lab top, waiting impatiently for the phone to ring.
When it did finally ring, everyone started. Harry walked hurriedly to stand by Blair's side.
"Yes?" Blair answered the phone.
Rafe's voice sounded in his ear. "Hey Sandburg. Want a free lunch?"
"Hey, Rafe." Blair shook his head at the group and walked out into the hall for more privacy. "You know there ain't no such thing. And you're a little late for lunch."
"Sorry about that." The tone was less than sorrowful. "How about food in exchange for some help on a case?"
"Well…." Blair groaned, seeing even more research time being eaten away.
"I know, you're working on something great at the library, but –"
"Actually," he admitted, "I'm not. I'm doing some work for the university and the police department."
"Without Ellison?" Rafe's voice hit a high incredulous note. "He's not going to like that."
"It's not dangerous," Blair defended himself.
"Neither was a drive to Seattle for some cookies," Rafe reminded him. "Seem to recall that turned into something totally strange."
"Do not remind me," Blair shuddered. "Okay, call when you get on campus. I'll meet you outside Hargrove Hall."
Jim had wandered to the Sporting Dogs area of the arena, looking over the animals with more than a little interest. Megan watched him while at the same time trying to find holes in the security's defenses. The men had been able to breach them once; they might do so again.
Jim suddenly stopped and straightened. He inhaled deeply, then sneezed.
"Jim?" Megan stared at him.
"This way." Jim grinned ferally, moving away from the dogs toward the entrance to the staging area.
"What?" Megan picked up her pace to keep up with the taller detective.
"I think we just caught a break." Jim sneezed again.
Then he sneezed again.
"Good." Megan handed him a handkerchief. "Maybe we can get this wrapped up before dinner."
Blair returned to the room in time to see Sharon move between the professor and Harry.
"That is a genuine Quileute mask and you damn well know it!" Harry snapped, pointing at the piece that Josh had been working on for over two hours. "You're supposed to be an expert in Northwestern Native Americans and their craft; you should be able to see that it's Quileute!"
"Damn it!" Josh snapped back. "The coloring is a shade off and the shape is not quite right."
"Gentlemen!" Sharon looked from one to the other. "Can we have a bit of civility here?"
"What's going on?" Blair demanded.
"Grant won't admit that he has some primo Quileute masks," Jack said with a shrug. "Harry's calling him on it."
"Harry's doing more than calling him on it," Mike grinned.
"Harry –" Blair began.
"Stay out of this!" Harry pointed a finger at Blair. "Grant doesn't know squat about masks! He as much as said so earlier today!"
"I said my assistant is better at masks than I am," Josh countered. "That doesn't mean I don't know anything about them!"
"Gentlemen!" Sharon's voice was sharp and cutting. "No one is proving anything except that they have large lungs and loud voices with all this shouting. Sit down, both of you!"
The ringing of Blair's cell phone drew Blair out of the fracas for a moment.
"Hey, Rafe!" Blair moved outside into the hall again. It looked like Sharon was handing the mèlée just fine at the moment.
Dan's voice sounded in his ear. "Sorry, Blair, it's only me."
"No need to be sorry," Blair replied. "I should have looked at who was calling me. I was just expecting Rafe or Brown to call."
"Doing double duty now?" Dan asked.
"Being a consultant means I do get to be consulted, right? And by more than Jim," Blair reminded the pathologist.
"I suppose so," Dan agreed. "Just don't let Brown talk you into going to Seattle again any time soon. And definitely just not the two of you. Take Ellison with you."
"Et tu, Dan?" Blair groaned. "We aren't ever gonna get to live that one down, are we?"
"Probably not," Dan chuckled. "Anyway, I wanted you to know I have that information for you."
"About the bones?" Blair asked.
"Yeah," Dan said with a sigh.
"And?" Blair prompted.
"Your three bodies aren't Native American." Dan sounded a bit disappointed to Blair.
"Is that all of them?" Blair wanted to know.
"Definitely. There were only three bodies found," Dan answered.
"Well, I never knew how many were found." Blair nibbled his lip. "And Sharon never told me."
"I don't think we told anyone how many were found," Dan said. "Neither did Grant. At the time we weren't sure if we had entire bodies or just partial bodies."
"So," Blair said, "Mark is sure? About them not being Native American?"
"Dead sure," Dan affirmed.
"Thanks, Dan," Blair sighed, leaning his head against the wall. It wasn't going to be easy telling this to Harry and his friends. "And thank Mark for me too."
"Now I have to find out who they might have been," Dan said with a groan. "That's not going to be easy."
"Good luck, Dan."
"I'll need it," he replied as he cut the connection.
Brown parked the car in the parking lot near to Hargrove Hall. Rafe handed the phone back to his partner and got out, following Brown to the steps of Hargrove Hall. Both studiously avoided looking at the fountain.
Blair stood at the top of the stairs, his hands jammed in his pockets. "So, what's up guys?" he asked.
"Someone decided to desecrate some graves in Olde Towne," Rafe told him.
"What?!" Blair stared at the two in stunned horror. "Why?"
"Good question," Brown shrugged. "No answers."
"Which graves?" Blair persisted.
Rafe shook his head. "We don't know. There were no headstones."
"That's not quite true," Brown corrected his partner. "There was one headstone, but it was so weathered we couldn't read it, and the archivist said it had never been catalogued."
"The graves were in the back of the yard," Rafe went on. "We figured, well the archivist figured, that the graves were in Olde Towne's version of Potter's Field."
Blair shook his head, closing his eyes, thinking. "I don't know that much about Olde Towne," he admitted. "Maybe there's a professor here on campus who can help…."
"Thing is," Brown went on, "some stuff was found at the site. We don't know if the perps dropped it by accident or if they were from the graves themselves."
"We thought you could help us identifying them," Rafe added.
"Hey guys, I'm good, but –" Blair began.
"Hairboy, this stuff is right up your alley," Brown assured him.
"What?" he asked.
"Some painted cedar pieces," Rafe told him. "And some shredded cedar bark. At least I think it's shredded cedar bark. You know, like the local Native Americans used to make."
Blair stared at Rafe. "Some what?"
"Some cedar pieces –" Brown began.
"I got that," Blair said impatiently. "You don't happen to have them with you, do you?"
"Everything is locked up in Evidence," Rafe said.
"Pictures, man, the pictures of the stuff." Blair glared at them edgily.
"Right here." Rafe pulled the manila envelope out of his suit pocket.
Blair all but ripped the envelope from Rafe's hands and pulled the pictures out. He studied the pictures carefully. He tapped the pictures against his hand, frowning, then looked at them again.
Finally he shook his head. "You said the graves were desecrated. How?"
"Well, desecrated might not be the right word," Rafe admitted. "Three bodies were removed from their graves –"
"Three!?" Blair stared at them in shock. "You sure about that?"
"Yes," Rafe nodded. "We're sure."
"Three shallow holes in the ground," Brown added. "Why?"
"Come on." Blair waved his hand at them and turned to re-enter the Hall.
"Why?" Brown followed the anthropologist warily.
"Because, H," Blair stopped and looked at the detective with sorrow in his dark blue eyes, "I think I have the answer to my little problem which has kept me out of the stacks all day, and the solution to your crime."
Continue on to Act 3
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