Indigo's Chief of Police Ryan Ballinson, officer Brian Meens, Ryan's niece Bebe and her associate Eckert Ardret have their first chance to get a good look at the token. Here's the scene at the police station as they examine it:
"Ye gods! It's really getting nasty cold out!" She dropped into a chair next to Ardret. "You guys are going to want to hear what I found out." She shook a few ice crystals out of her hair. They dropped with tiny clicks to the floor, and immediately began to melt.
She dug into her jacket, and withdrew the wad of gauzy green fabric. Unfolding it, she held out her palm to display the stone on its cut thong, snatching it away from Ardret's touch as he reached out for it. "Careful!" she warned. "This thing froze to Arthur's cheek, and had to be pried off at the ER. It left a burn mark on him. Burned one of the nurses, too, freezer burn."
Ryan and Ardret spoke together. "Who's Arthur?"
Bebe giggled. "Turn's out, that's Tuck's real name. Arthur Ganderson. He's the one who reported the discovery out at the buttes. Seems like he claimed an artifact for himself before he called us in to do a formal dig, too." She rocked her palm to show the stone medallion. "I don't think you want to touch it, but the scarf seems to be enough protection to handle it safely."
She offered across the desk to her uncle first. Ryan lifted it cautiously, careful to touch only the scarf. Ardret stood, leaning across the desk so he could get a better look at the token in the Chief's hand. "Looks kind of like an eye." Ryan observed. He tilted it in his hand to admire the gleam that ran across the surface.
Bebe felt that same sense of being looked at as she had at the ER. She was startled when Ardret shivered, saying, "Ugh! Goose walked over my grave there...."
"What's on the other side of the medallion?" Bebe wondered. They watched as Ryan inserted a finger between his palm and the scarf, and used the fabric to flip the stone. The pattern on the back looked nothing like the front. Instead of the concentric pattern on the other side, this side of the token was marked with radial grooves that extended, zigzag-fashion, from the thin edge to slightly mounded rim of the hole at the center.
None of the lines met at the rim of the opening; instead, they halted at varying distances from it to leave an irregular unmarked area at the highest part of the mound. The bottom of the grooves was darker than the surface of the stone.
"That's a lot more like a trade token." Ardret commented. "If I found this in a Swinomish or Willapa site, really any of the Athapaskan sites I've worked, I'd call it a trade token without doubt." He paused. "But only if I saw this side first. That eye-side, that's like nothing I've seen before."
Bebe looked at Ardret. "You might be onto something, Eckert," she said. "You know the Pacific Coast Indians and the Plains Indians from here south and west are related linguistically, right?" She smiled briefly. "They could be related culturally, too, enough to trade the same way."
Ryan closed the stone inside the scarf in his hand. "That seems like a lot of speculation to rest on a single artifact to me, but it's your specialty, after all."
Hint: The thing on the thong is not a trade token, Athapaskan or otherwise...
Total: 42,613 words.