Kait Nolan and I swapped blogs today. Here is her fitness-for-duty interview of Ian from Riven.
I glanced at the clock in the corner of my computer. 4:13.
Ian was late. And as much as that was something I was used to—no one actually looks forward to fitness-for-duty evaluations— it wasn’t usual for him. Such power plays were generally beneath him. And that had me wondering if he was blowing off the session or if something had happened.
I reached for the phone to dial his commanding officer.
“You look concerned.”
The handset clattered out of my hand as the Shadow Walker melted out of a dark corner and moved to one of the cushy leather chairs. He was too big for the space, his presence making the otherwise spacious office feel cramped.
Christ, I’ll never get used to that.
Heart hammering, I replaced the phone and walked around the desk to join him. “Most people knock.”
“Sorry. Old habits.” The barest curve of his mouth gave away his amusement.
Instead of asking where he’d been, I sat, lacing my fingers in my lap, and waited. As a rule, people hate silence. One of the certain ways of drawing them out is to say nothing at all. But Ian Ryker, ex-Shadow Walker, could give the Sphinx a run for his money when it came to inscrutable silence. As the minutes stretched on, I felt my own resolve wavering and began to formulate a different tactic.
Ian lifted a brow. “I feel compelled to say ‘Bless me father, for I have sinned. It has been three weeks since my last appointment.’”
My lips twitched. “Do you feel you have something to confess?”
“Apart from the fact that I feel these sessions are useless? No. You already know that.”
“Protocol dictates that agents who are injured in the line of duty be evaluated and treated for post traumatic stress. You were almost crushed to death—”
“I know what I was. I know what I am. Let’s not dance around the truth. There’s more standing between me and active duty than your go ahead, and we both know it.” He rubbed a hand along his leg. Multiple surgeries hadn’t been able to fully repair the damage he’d sustained in that bomb blast.
He was probably right. My recommendations to his superiors were unlikely to override a physical incapability.
“There are other jobs that aren’t in the field.” And it was for one of these that I was assessing his mental status. Not that I was allowed to divulge that.
“What good is a Shadow Walker out of the field? They dump me here in this hellhole, as if that’s some kind of favor. Babysitting duty for a rarely used safe house. Yeah, I can see exactly how much use they have for me.”
“You needed time to recover.”
“And I took it. Yet I’m still here. Stuck.” Restless, he rose to pace the space between the chairs and my desk. His bad leg dragged only slightly, a huge improvement from the first time I’d seen him. “I need purpose. Something to do that utilizes my skills more than perimeter checks and vigilante justice.”
“Vigilante justice?” My internal alarms were pinging. Keep the secret. It was the rule all of us in the Mirus world lived by. If he was violating that directive…
Ian’s jerked his shoulders in a shrug. “I saved a human woman from mugging last week.
“Illegal hunting?” The last thing any of us needed was some Mirus citizen going rogue and attacking the human populace.
“No. Her assailants were human.”
“Human,” I repeated.
“Gangbangers. Would-be rapists. They’ll hurt no one else.”
Not good. Not good at all. “And what state were they in when you left them?” I asked carefully.
“Alive. Which was more than they deserved. I merely incapacitated them.”
Despite my best efforts, I must’ve made some sound of distress.
“Don’t worry, doc. I didn’t need to use any abilities to do it. None that could be seen, anyway. To anyone watching, I’m just military trained. Not that anyone watches in that neighborhood.”
“What about the woman?” I asked.
“Marley,” he murmured. “Her name is Marley. I walked her home.”
“You’re sure she saw nothing…questionable?” Please say no. The bounds of my confidentiality only extended so far. If he’d violated the law, I was required to report it.
“I’m certain. I was careful.” He checked his watch. “Look, doc, are we about done here? I need to go. She’s getting off shift soon, and I don’t want her walking home alone.”
“You’re walking her home from work?”
“Not so that she’d know about it. I know the rules. Just following to make sure she gets from one to the other okay. It’s a good opportunity to practice my skillset and keep to the shadows.”
“See that you stay there, Ian,” I warned. “Don’t cross any uncrossable lines.”
“I’ll behave myself. I promise.” With that, he faded back into the shadows.
When I was certain I was truly alone, I picked up the phone and dialed.
“It’s Nolan. I just finished Ryker’s assessment.”
I thought of the softening in Ian’s voice when he mentioned Marley’s name. He needed to get as far away from this location as possible before he did something we’d all regret.
A permanent injury in the line of duty effectively ended Ian Ryker’s career as a Shadow Walker for the Council of Races. Being posted to a safe house in Washington, D.C. was one step short of forced retirement–until the day Marley Weiss, a local human woman, witnessed something she should never have seen. According to Mirus law, that glimpse of their world makes her life forfeit. Once, Ian might have followed orders to take her out. But not this time.
Kait Nolan is stuck in an office all day, sometimes juggling all three of her jobs at once with the skill of a trained bear—sometimes with a similar temperament. After hours, she uses her powers for good, creating escapist fiction. The work of this Mississippi native is packed with action, romance, and the kinds of imaginative paranormal creatures you’d want to sweep you off your feet…or eat your boss. When she’s not working or writing, she’s in her kitchen, heading up a revolution to Retake Homemade from her cooking blog, Pots and Plots.
My interview of Tiberius from a Little Moon Madness can be found here on her blog: Tiberius Interview