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   Chapter 7 Pilot

Pilot: Book One of the Channel Riders By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 15905

Updated: 2018-02-02 13:01

Elena blinked her eyes open, momentarily confused by her surroundings. She slumped in her seat while sleeping and could feel the seam in the leather car seat pressed against her face. She sat up and rubbed the sleep from her eyes, yawning hugely. Elena looked around at her grandfather. He was sitting, as he had been when she drifted off, notebook open and pen scratching away. He looked well rested and crisp as if the journey had not affected him at all. She frowned in his direction.

"We will be there shortly, " he commented without looking up. His movements were smooth and easy, but Elena had known him all her life and caught the snap of tension in his voice. She suddenly felt queasy. Elena pulled a compact out of her purse and grimaced when she saw the seam line running down her cheek from where it had been pressed into the seat.

'Great, ' she thought. 'I get to meet the high and mighty Council while looking like Mary Shelly's Frankenstein.' She ran her hand through her hair in an attempt to instill some form of order. As they pulled up to the docks she gave it up as a lost cause and resigned herself to looking travel worn while possibly being held accountable for treason.

"What time is it?" She asked. Her voice was thick from sleep and she coughed to clear her throat.

"Nearly ten local time." Elena put her compact away as her grandfather tucked his pen and notebook back into his briefcase.

"I suppose asking if local time and my time are the same as well as where we actually are would be pointless?" Alexandro smiled at her petulant tone.

"We are at the docks." He opened his door and Elena followed suit. The scent of the sea was strong and she took a deep breath with a smile before she thought to look around. They were in a parking lot by a set of docks and there were warehouses behind them with no distinguishing skyline features she could see. Elena shrugged and followed her grandfather and Marcus as they began walking down the docks and towards the individual piers.

The air was brisk this close to the water and Elena hugged herself for warmth as they walked. She wished she had a warmer jacket, but was thankful that the cold air slapped the last of the sleep from her. They reached the last pier and were greeted by a man who rivaled Marcus in size but had a blonde crew cut instead of a brown one. He was even dressed identically to the big man and she wondered if there was a bodyguard uniform of which she had previously been unaware. There was no talk as the man led them to a small skiff tied up at the end of the pier. Her grandfather didn't seem to expect any conversation, so she let the matter lie as she settled into a seat.

It didn't take a genius to see where they were going once the motor was started and they aimed at open water. There appeared to be only one ship anchored off the coast. The yacht gleamed white on the dark water and Elena caught flashes of light winking from the brass fittings as the sun kissed her. She didn't have much knowledge of pleasure craft but she could easily tell those wanting their tastes for luxury indulged designed this beauty.

By her estimation the ship would be able to hold several hundred passengers on an ocean going voyage with ease. It was easily the largest ship she had ever been on and wondered if it had started life as a member of a high end cruise line. As they approached, the name of the ship came into view. She read the large, black scripted letters and felt some of her panic ease.

The Lorenzo was a Council owned vessel, paid for by contributions from all of the Families. Even though she had never seen it, she knew of it. The jointly owned ship was held in trust by the Council and served as neutral ground. Violence of any kind was not allowed on neutral ground. No matter what the Council ruling, she would be safe while on board. Her relief was tempered by the booming reality the ship represented. She could enjoy seeing her grandfather again and be amused by his lack of directional sense, but this was serious business.

The skiff pulled along side the ship and docking clamps were lowered and attached to the bow and stern. Slowly the machinery turned and the little skiff was lifted out of the water and hauled up to the deck. The wind caused the skiff to rock like a cradle and Elena resisted the urge to look over the side to see the receding waterline.

Once the skiff was secured, the large, unnamed man jumped out. Marcus did as well, with her grandfather following at a slower pace. Elena stood and prepared to do the same. She was surprised by the hand Marcus offered for assistance, but took it gratefully and smiled. He smiled back and squeezed her hand in reassurance. The distance w

r parents?" Elena's gut clenched with the question.

"About a year before, " she said, swallowing down emotions.

"You went to live with your grandfather then, correct?"


"Where did you primarily reside during this time?"

"Mostly at the Docking Facility, " Elena said. Riko and Siobhan exchanged a heavy glance Elena could not interpret.

"And who was your primary instructor?" Siobhan asked taking over for Riko. The men stayed silent; there was not much they could say, after all they were not pilots.

"Deana Lang, " Elena said, "of the House of Felini."

"And do you still have the headaches?" Elena blinked hard.

"I didn't realize they were related. I thought the dreams might be, but thought the headaches were just the aftermath." Riko and Siobhan exchange another glance and Elena wondered if the nightmares were common. That they were a symptom of some larger ill and not something unique to just her would make her feel marginally better about the scenario.

"We would like to discuss this further with you, but that can wait, " Riko said. She turned towards Peter. "We are satisfied, you may proceed, " she said with a rather imperious wave of her hand. Peter inclined his head in her direction.

"Are there any more preliminary questions?" Peter asked. Alex leaned forward, nearly popping out of his seat like a living Jack-in-the-box. Somehow Elena knew he would and thought she could probably guess the question.

"Can you tell us how you know Ian Jensen?" It was the question she expected.

"I went to his cousin Eliza's sweet sixteen dance. She and I are the same age."

"You are friends with Eliza?"

"We are on friendly terms, " Elena responded. "We were a small class and everyone was invited. I haven't actually seen her in well over 10 years."

"How would you describe your contact with Ian?" Alex's eyes gleamed.

"I believe someone introduced him and I said nice to meet you. He was ten years old at the time I believe so I didn't really give him much thought. I saw him once again a few years later at a lecture my cousin Mateo was giving. I think I said hello." Alex leaned back in his chair, his face blank. Peter waited to see if Alex would comment. No further comments arose from him.

"Any further questions?" Silence was his answer. "Very well then. What has been spoken remains a private matter and not a part of the public record." Peter looked towards the man behind Siobhan who nodded. He left his position and opened a door opposite the one Elena had used to enter the room.

"We are ready for you now, " he said and then returned to his place, leaving the door open behind him. The man who entered was rather non-descript. He was not too tall, and not too short and had a face you would forget moments after he had left the room. He wheeled in a small cart with a machine that bore a keen resemblance to a court recorder's typewriter. He then went back for a chair, closing the door behind him. He settled himself at the machine as though quite aware everyone was watching him. When he was settled he looked up at Peter. Peter nodded.

"Let the official recording begin."

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