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   Chapter 39 Pilot

Pilot: Book One of the Channel Riders By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 7599

Updated: 2018-02-02 13:25

"I hate politics, " Elena muttered to herself as she made her way through the corridors and back towards her quarters.

"So I guess some things never change, " a familiar voice said from behind her.

"Angie, " Elena said throwing her arms around her friend.

"Did you think you could sneak back dockside with no one noticing?" Angie asked when Elena released her. "Especially with everything going on."

"I suppose not, " Elena said with a chuckle. "So how's life?"

"Good, good. Several of us are down in the Aerie. We heard you had a reprieve from babysitting duties so I was sent to find you."

"That sounds like heaven, " Elena sighed dramatically. "You don't suppose they have a glass or two of Draxio around do you? I could really use a drink."

"As long as Lucy and Rowan haven't gotten into one of their philosophical debates recently there should be a glass or two left."

"Tell me the truth, they aren't still debating the Varcas war are they?" Elena shuttered and Angie laughed.

"Nope we put a gag order on them over that. They have managed to find several other almost as annoying topics to fill the gap in the time you've been gone." They headed off to the Aerie, one of their group's favorite watering holes. Elena was more than happy to shuck all talk of partnerships and have conversations merely to enjoy another's company.

Across the bazaar she spotted Talbot leading a frowning Smith and a note taking Jonathan. Jonathan waved when he spotted her and looked like he wanted to call her over. She waved back and continued on her way unfazed. Tonight was about catching up with old friends. She walked into the Aerie to enthusiastic greetings from friends she tried very hard not to miss and she broke out into a grin. It was the start of a fun evening.

"This is not the way to start a good morning, " Elena told herself the next day as she fought to keep her brains from leaking out of her ears. "At least this headache isn't from the Calling." There had been more than a few glasses of Draxio around last night, although Elena was pretty sure it was in scarce supply this morning.

"Just how many toasts did I drink last night?" As she dressed she tried to count. Laura's wedding, Karen's first ship, Dina's new ship, her

drink and paid up, leaving the large tip she had already decided upon. The bazaar was as always a wondrous place of the glittering and mundane. Dazzling artwork produced by people whose names the human tongue could never pronounce pressed side by side with phony star charts leading to lost cities built of precious gems. Fruit vendors vied for space beside fortunetellers.

Elena smiled as she made her way through the exotic, yet familiar mix. Talbot seemed content to let her answer questions since she kept things simple and chose not to elaborate. He wore a small smile and Elena couldn't tell if he was pleased with her responses or if he was just happy he didn't have to answer the questions. By the end of the day she had accumulated quite a tidy pile and led the group back towards her rooms. Smith and Jonathan, as expected placed their parcels down and began examining the room. She shrugged as Talbot shook his head. The rooms were new, what could they learn?

"It's similar to ours, " Smith said. He sounded disappointed.

"Did you expect it to be different?"

"It doesn't have any pilot things, " Jonathan said. He too sounded disappointed. Elena chose not to ask what pilot things were.

"I believe we have imposed upon Ms. Calabrese long enough. If you will follow me please. It is nearly dinner time and your dinner has been arranged. Ms. Calabrese, thank you." Talbot efficiently herded Smith and Jonathan out of her rooms and she sank onto one of the chairs in exhaustion.

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