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   Chapter 32 Pilot

Pilot: Book One of the Channel Riders By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 11959

Updated: 2018-02-02 13:18

Elena navigated the nearly empty road as the snow continued to swirl. Getting her car out of the garage had been an interesting feat as the snow melted around the door, reformed as ice and did it's best to glue the garage door shut.

"Maybe next time we could meet at a coffee shop downtown, " she mumbled to herself as she slowed for the gate. The guard quick-stepped over and she rolled down her window.

"Elena Calabrese, " she told him. The wind threatened to pull her words away. He caught them and went back to the guardhouse. She rolled her window up as the gate opened. "Here we go again."

At the building, Smith opened the door for her and led her back to the conference room. She shook her head. This scenario had gone from nerve shattering to nearly routine. 'As long as I watch my words anyway, ' she thought as she unwrapped her scarf and unbuttoned her jacket. Inside the conference room she was unsurprised to find Jonathan already seated. He rose when she entered and pulled out a chair for her.

"Thank you, " she told him as she sat. She placed the original set of schematics and her 'to write on' copy on the table and shrugged out of her coat. Elena looked around. "I expected more people."

"Really, " Jonathan asked, giving her his toothy smile. "Why?"

"Well for Ian's lecture you packed an auditorium. Of course that could have been for creative camouflage. But then again you weren't being sneaky." She turned a smile towards Smith, who frowned.

"If anyone else is needed they will be brought in at the time."

"Of course." Elena watched as Smith seated himself. Both he and Jonathan brought notebooks with them and she wondered if they expected her to give them pop quizzes. She glanced over towards the glass and had the sneaking suspicion that these sessions were being recorded.

"Well, shall we begin?" Smith asked.

"Of course, " Elena responded. "What would you like to start with?" For a moment Smith looked non-plussed. Elena's smile went from politely pleasant to amused. "I didn't exactly have a lesson plan."

"I see, " Smith thought for a moment. "Why don't we start with Channel placement?" Elena was pleased to see that he had dropped the term world gates for the more prosaic channels. Elena unrolled the documents given to her and unrolled the map marking the locations of the four channels the military knew about. Her goal in this conversation would be to keep them from learning the fact that in reality there were twenty seven channels.

Elena tried to hold the document flat on the table, but it threatened to roll back up at any moment. She placed the other documents on two of the corners and hoped for the best. Taking a mechanical pencil from her pocketbook she pointed to each of the dots in turn. Showing true imagination, the military had named them one through four.

"Now each of the channels have names, " she began. "This is the Marta, this the Evangeline, the Amalie and that is of course the Blood."

"How did they get their names?" Jonathan asked, as he wrote the names down in his notebook.

"Each is named for the first pilot known to have taken a ship through."

"There is someone out there named Blood?" He asked. "Not sure I'd like to meet him in a dark alley."

"Her, " Elena corrected. "And the Blood is the only one not named for a pilot."

"How was the Blood channel named then?"

"Well, The Blood as you have already found out, has been blocked off. It leads to an area of space that is shall we say, hostile territory. Everyone who went through ended u

ost up. She nearly sighed in relief as Smith's anger level seemed to have cranked up higher with each minute.

"Do you have somewhere else you need to be Ms. Calabrese?" Smith asked dryly.

"Not especially, " she told him. "But the roads weren't that great coming in and are bound to be worse leaving. And we are nearly finished with our set time."

"But we haven't really covered anything, " Jonathan said.

"Perhaps next time you could have a list of your questions ready rather than just going randomly into the information, " she suggested, smiling sweetly at the man.

"Yes, " Smith said. "Perhaps that would be better." He had a thoughtful look on his face. In some ways it was more alarming than his anger. It meant he was thinking. "Yes, a list we could go through…" His voice trailed off. Elena had a feeling she had better call Peter and figure out what exactly she could tell them about the Docking Facility before she got herself into trouble.

Somehow she thought the concept of alien technology would be something the military would be most interested in obtaining. She was even willing to bet it would be claimed under National Security. Elena shrugged and began putting her winter gear back on. It was Jonathan who walked her back out to the car. About an inch of snow had accumulated on her car while she had been inside. Luckily, it was light and powdery.

"Thanks for coming out on such a night, " Jonathan said. Elena snorted before she could stop herself.

"Somehow I didn't think a rain check would be appreciated." She tugged open her car door and slid inside.

"You know we aren't the enemy, " he said before she could close the door.

"I know you aren't, " she said.

"Perhaps once you get to know us you won't think so badly of us."

"Maybe, " she said keeping her voice even.

"Maybe you'd care to get a drink some night after work?" Elena wasn't certain if he was asking her out on behalf of the military or on his own.

"Perhaps, " she said. "It is our busy season though."

"Of course."

"Good night, " she told him with a smile. She closed the door after hearing him echo the sentiment. He walked back inside as she turned on the heater and let the windshield wipers clear away the snow. It wasn't until she was halfway home that she realized she left the schematics and other papers on the conference table.

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