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   Chapter 16 Pilot

Pilot: Book One of the Channel Riders By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 14527

Updated: 2018-02-02 13:08

"I suspect Smith will come back with a list of what is needed from us, " Peter said with a smile. "My apologies for monopolizing the conversation." Elena turned towards him.

"I didn't really have anything much to add, " she replied, and then caught the twinkle of amusement in his eyes. "You're enjoying this, " she said incredulously. She shook her head. "How could you be enjoying this?" She asked. He chuckled softly.

"How could you enjoy outrunning a Matoveran raider?" He countered. She smiled back at him.

"Adrenaline high." She answered. He laughed and shook his head. The door opened and they both turned. Instead of Smith rejoining them, the young man from the front desk wheeled a cart in. On it was coffee, mugs and all of the accoutrements one would assume would come with a coffee service, sugar packets, creamer and little red plastic stirring sticks.

"We are sorry for the interruption to your meeting. It may be a little while before your meeting can resume. We thought you might enjoy some refreshment." He turned and exited the room, closing the door behind him. The coffee smelled great and Elena realized how draggy she was after the long trip and the nerves. She eyed the tray dubiously, remembering the fuzzy feeling around her brain from her last visit.

"I doubt they would poison it, " Peter said "Go ahead and have a cup. If you start looking crazy, I'll know." She turned towards him and saw his smile was slightly mocking. She frowned at him but decided to have a cup anyway.

"They might not poison it, but I have no doubt that they would have no qualms about slipping something into it." She crossed the room to the coffee service and picked up a mug. She peered inside the mug and then wiped it out with the tail of her shirt. Peter laughed outright at her behavior, his laughter echoing in the small room. Elena felt the heat rise to her face.

"You wouldn't be laughing if you were the one they drugged on the street in broad daylight, " she replied grumpily. Peter stopped laughing.

"Perhaps not, " he conceded. Elena poured the coffee into the mug and avoided the sugar and creamer packets. "I thought you usually added something to it, " Peter commented, indicating the cup. She grimaced.

"Usually all but the first cup has sugar and cream." She resumed her seat.

"Ah, " Peter replied. She could tell from the amusement in his eyes that he still found her behavior funny. Personally she thought that given the circumstances she was being quite practical. She resisted the urge to stick her tongue out at him with a Herculean effort and sipped her coffee in silence. Elena was halfway through her cup when Smith returned, a folder in his hands. Elena could feel the amusement drain from Peter and felt him focus. Smith ignored the coffee and sat back down at the table. He cleared his throat as if calling their attention to him, which Elena found ridiculous since they both turned towards him as he entered.

"We would like you to tell us everything you know about the Channels." Even though she had expected something of that sort of request she burst out laughing and Peter smiled. Smith scowled at them both. "I fail to see the humor of my request." He said dryly.

"I'm sorry, " Elena said. "But do you know how many years that would take? And that is only the bare surface of things." Smith pressed his lips together in a thin white line.

"You are determined to continue with this project then?" Peter asked.

"Of course, " Smith answered stiffly.

"Very well, " Peter replied. "We can obviously not allow you to go off with misinformation. Why don't you share with us all you know of the channels and we will correct your information? We would of course request compensation for such an act as private contractors." All thoughts of humor left Elena in a flash at Peter's words.

"Compensation, " Smith practically spit out. "I suspect it should be expected from people like you. I don't suppose you would do anything for the good of your nation." Elena snorted.

"The best good I could do for my nation is to walk out of here and not tell you a blessed thing, " Elena retorted. "A few of the military may be killed, but it would leave the mass of my nation in tact." Smith stared at her and she realized he had mostly dismissed her and had been

she thought. 'And not one he intends to lose.'

"I agree that he should be able to go over his designs and explain himself here, however the fact of the matter is that his actions have lead to the death of several good men and women and that must be explained to the Council." Peter stated. Smith listened for a very short while and then nodded again.

"Very well. We will have Ian explain his concepts and ideas to you and then agree to send him temporarily to the Council." Peter looked at Smith squarely.

"I believe we have an understanding. You may have a contract drawn up to firm up the deal. Both of us have had a long journey today and would appreciate a fuller discussion tomorrow. As there will no doubt be much to discuss, perhaps Ms. Calabrese can be persuaded to take one more day away from her business and agree that all future meetings will take place after business hours?" Peter turned towards Elena.

"I can accept that for one day."

"Thank you, " Peter said and then turned back to Smith. "Ian will explain all of what he has designed for you and explain his concepts. At the end of the meeting, he will leave with me and accompany me back to the Council where he will explain his actions. In the event a disciplinary hearing is deemed necessary, you will be informed and be allowed to send a member of your organization to represent your interests. Is that acceptable?"

"Yes that sounds acceptable, " he replied. Peter stood and Elena followed suit.

"I would also expect you to bring a calendar to the meeting. Ms. Calabrese will do so as well and arrangements will be made for future meetings as well as a trip through the channels scheduled. You will of course understand that the holiday season is a busy one for those with businesses such as Ms. Calabrese's and a schedule will assist greatly for planning purposes." Peter reminded Smith. Smith stood to face Peter. Elena was both impressed and flattered that Peter had thought of her schedule by giving her business equal importance with both the needs of the military and the needs of the council.

Elena glanced at Peter. She was beginning to realize that she was now considered as once again part of the Guild. This was not the kind of consideration that one gave to an outsider. It was something that you only gave to a member of one of the families. She was a little unsure about how she felt about being automatically welcomed back in but over all she suspected that given the situation it could have been a lot worse.

Elena and Peter made their good byes and to Elena's relief they were allowed to leave with no problems. The military agreed to the terms at the start, but she wondered how long this condition would last.

'Probably just until after the trip through the channels, ' she guessed. 'I suspect my world is going to be a lot more interesting than I bargained for.'

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