“Got another one over here!” Ramone called out, flipping the debris over with a pencil.
Rissa crouched down next to the dark-haired man and observed the bone fragments emerging from the ground like the tips of icebergs.
“Jesus, how far is this guy spread?” she muttered, standing. Before she could gather her thoughts, a sleek black car pulled off the highway and parked. Two men in suits stepped out, a tall ruddy human and a shorter blue-haired elf in wildly impractical shoes.
They approached Rissa with a flash of their badges, the human stopping to talk to her as the elf brushed past and observed the body recovery.
“I’m Agent Montehugh, this is Special Agent Kandomere, we’re with the MTF and we’ll be taking over here.”
“Excuse me? Since when?”
“Since this became a magic crime scene.”
Rissa fumed, staring up at the man’s face. He smirked, and Rissa was aware how ridiculous she looked. Five foot nothing going toe-to-toe with a guy who looked like he was at least part-giant.
“MTF is handling mob hits now?” Ramone asked, stepping up beside Rissa.
“It’s not a mob hit.” the elf agent stated. “It just looks like one.”
He walked back over to where Rissa stood with the other men.
“We have our own team coming to recover the rest of the remains, you’ll hand over whatever you collected so far to them.”
Rissa wanted to argue, but if the MTF was involved it was already way over her paygrade. Ramone turned and started instructing the rest of their team on the hand-off while Rissa stood and glared at the agents as they inspected the scene, conversing between themselves. The elf agent glanced her way a few times, but his expression betrayed nothing. Once the MTF recovery team arrived, the agents got back in their fancy car and drove away, leaving the transfer of remains to them.
Gritting her teeth, Rissa handed over her evidence bags and helped their team leader move everything from their van into the MTF vehicle. She wasn’t looking forward to the paperwork this was going to involve, or the debriefing that would follow. This guy hadn’t just been taken out, he’d been obliterated, bone fragments scattered over a mile, easily. They hadn’t found anything bigger than the distal end of a fibula or the acromion process of his scapula. The MTF would have their work cut out for them trying to reassemble the poor bastard, but she figured they probably had ways around that.
“Fucking magic feds.”
Rissa hadn’t been living in L.A. very long, only a couple years, but she liked it better than Boston already. She liked the warmer weather, being close to the ocean, and she liked her colleagues at work. Being a forensic osteologist for the city was kind of a grunt job. The lab division that her job fell under was woefully underfunded and understaffed, but at least it felt like she was doing something, making a difference. All her friends in the program had gone on to do museum work or into other fields entirely, but Rissa had wanted to help bring a voice to the voiceless, to tell the stories of the people whose bones she found.
And she was damn good at it.
Which is why it wasn’t a complete surprise when she was called into her supervisor’s office a few weeks after the incident with the MTF to find that the big red-headed agent and his elf partner were already there.
“Agents, I believe you’ve met Dr. Gilbert already. Rissa, you remember Agent Montehugh and Special Agent Kandomere?” Director Atkins asked.
“Yes, I remember.” Rissa replied tightly, shaking the men’s hands nonetheless. “I turned over all my notes, is there a problem?”
“Not at all, Dr. Gilbert.” the elf, Kandomere, said. “Actually, we’ve come to borrow you.”
“They asked for my best osteologist. Of course I recommended you, Rissa.” Atkins smiled at her.
“I…should be flattered, then.” Rissa said, on guard. “But don’t you have your own forensic osteologists?”
“The MTF’s Laboratory Division is a relatively new department, and we don’t have many specialists yet, though we are in the process of developing a training program. I’m afraid the current case demands someone with your particular skill set immediately, however.”
“I see. I assume I’ll be working with the remains the MTF took from us last month then? I’ll be needing my notes back.”
Director Atkins shifted uncomfortably, but the MTF agents gave no acknowledgment to her icy tone or demeanor.
“Of course, you’ll have everything you need.” the elf nodded.
“Alright, gentlemen, lead the way.”
The MTF’s lab division was way more posh than Rissa’s. Everything had that sleek high-tech look that made it seem like the set for an episode of Black Mirror or something. One of the junior agents showed Rissa to her office(she had her own office!) and introduced her to the other forensic anthropologists on the team, two elves and a human.
Rissa spent the morning in her new office reacquainting herself with her notes and going over the new information that had been compiled since the MTF had taken over. The victim had been, well, basically vibrated apart by magic, and some kind of blast spell had scattered him over a square mile. The specifics of the magic were being handled by another department, obviously, but Rissa and the others now had to basically reassemble the fellow like a macabre jigsaw puzzle.
A knock at her open office door pulled Rissa from her thoughts. Glancing up, she saw Special Agent Kandomere standing in the doorway.
“Can I help you, Special Agent Kandomere?” Rissa inquired.
“It’s just ‘Kandomere’,” he said with a small nod and a smile, “and I came to see how you’re settling in, if you need anything?”
“I think I’ve got things figured out for the most part, thank you. I’ll be joining the others in a moment to start combing through the bone fragments and reassembling our victim.”
The relaxed posture Kandomere took, leaning against the door frame, hands in his pockets and head tipped to one side, gave Rissa pause. Was this a social call? What was he doing, checking up on her? That seemed extremely beneath an agent of his rank.
“Well, if you need anything, give me a call.” Kandomere said, offering her his card. “And maybe we can compare notes over coffee later?”
“Oh, uh, sure, I guess that would be okay.”
“Good. I’ll come back by this afternoon.” he smiled again, flashing his sharp teeth at her, his ice-blue hair split by the point of his tapered ear. “I look forward to working together, Dr. Gilbert.”
Rissa nodded as he left the lab, belatedly realizing she had probably been meant to tell him to call her 'Rissa’, though she wasn’t exactly sure if she wanted him to, come to that.
Wait, coffee? Did…did he just ask her on a date? What the hell was going on?