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   Chapter 36 Pilot

Pilot: Book One of the Channel Riders By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 9055

Updated: 2018-02-02 13:23

Elena stood next to Andre and watched her grandfather and Smith square off. Jonathan stood a few feet away from Smith and looked eager to blend into the background. The discussion hadn't moved past words yet and Elena wondered if one of them would actually take a swing at the other.

"And you get to be stuck on a ship with them, " Andre commented. Elena shook her head.

"Aren't you sorry you are going to miss it?"

"Well I could take bets on how far out you get before one pitches the other overboard if I were coming, " Andre commented. He turned his head slightly. "Looks like the cavalry is about to arrive." Elena followed his gaze and saw Peter walking quickly towards the fracas.

"I suppose we could have stepped in, " Elena commented as Peter began settling things down.

"Do you actually think either of them would have listened?"

"No, " Elena said. "That's why we stayed out of it."

"You were told that only 50 lbs of gear would be allowed per person, " Peter said calmly. Each of the bags had been weighed. Smith was three pounds over the limit and had been asked to remove items to bring the weight down. Smith had contended that since Elena's bag had been seven pounds under the limit he should be allowed some leeway.

"I tried to tell him Grandfather didn't bend, " Elena said. Her bag had already been stowed as had Jonathan's who came in at exactly 50 lbs. She wondered what would happen if he decided to bring something back with him. That possibility had not really crossed his mind from everything she could tell. The only ship visible from where they stood was the Wind Dancer.

The crew was already aboard and ready to go. Elena knew they had been down at the docks over an hour before she, Andre, Smith and Jonathan had arrived. By the time the military arrived it looked as though the Wind Dancer had just come into port to pick them up and leave again. Both the Storm Chaser and Gregori's Dream had been docked in the enclosed areas used during the off-season to shelter the ships from winter storms and to make repairs.

"How soon is Peter leaving?" Elena asked Andre. She kept her voice soft so her question wouldn't carry.

"About four hours after you, " I think he is going to skirt around the coast to the Yolanda and have Anna ride that channel in." Elena nodded. That would put Peter about a day behind them in reaching the port facility. Maria would be a passenger on Gregori's Dream.

"We are losing the tide, " Elena heard her grandfather yell. "Lose the extra weight or stay here." He turned and stalked off towards the Wind Dancer.

"That would be my cue, " Elena said. "Thanks for taking care of Spin while I'm gone."

"No pr

ce of equipment could fry in the passage, but when the other components were turned back on it could spark a system-wide melt down. That was not something she wanted to contemplate.

Smith barked out questions and Elena blocked his voice out as she went through her routine. With the electronics off Elena turned her sight towards the water. Clear as a mountain pass the channel rose before her eyes. The depth was right. She smiled tightly and made a few adjustments to their course, aiming the ship to the center of the channel.

"Brace for entry, " Elena called out to the crew.

"What?" Smith said, waiting for the translation. All of the crew moved away from the railings and towards the center. The entry wasn't always that rough, but it was a safety precaution all ships followed.

"You are going to want to hold on, " Elena told Smith and Jonathan.

"Why?" Jonathan asked.

"Cause we are going in, " She told him. Elena focused on the channel. With a jarring bump the Wind Dancer slipped from the ocean and into the mouth of the channel. The first minute of entry felt like the first downward dive of a roller coaster. Light blurred around them in a sickening rainbow that bled to intense white. Smith and Jonathan gasped and grabbed for the wall. A railing had been placed along the inside for just such a reason and both men clung to it. Alexandro stood firm on the deck, his feet planted wide for balance as his ship slipped into the sky.

The Wind Dancer leveled out and the world around them bled from the dizzying blast of white in the channel entrance to the deep black of space. Stars surrounded them and Elena smiled. God she had missed this. She let out a peel of laughter and steered them through the stars, a blue ribbon of water glistening beneath their hull.

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