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   Chapter 1 Storm Chaser

Storm Chaser: Book Two of The Channel Riders By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 4979

Updated: 2018-02-09 13:47

The explosion sizzled across Elena's vision like lightning. She squinted and ducked her head to preserve her vision. The electronic bursts from the Matrovean raiders were even more disturbing for their silence. The vacuum of space stole all of the sound from the explosions.

"Getting closer, " she muttered to herself as her crew struggled to control the random sparks that threatened to ignite once they hit the pocket of oxygen around their ship. Elena blocked out the sounds and concentrated only on escape. Adrenaline bubbled through her system and her attention was more focused than the lasers that burned through the black. The Storm Chaser veered to starboard and lost a little speed.

"No help for it." The course adjustment may have cost them some speed, but it protected the delicate tracery that allowed the ship to retain its oxygen supply. Without it they would be dead before the raiders boarded. Elena ground her teeth. They would not board her ship. She focused her waning energy on a burst of speed and felt the ship speed its pace. The crew's movements showed relief as the Storm Chaser pulled ahead of the Matroveans.

Elena kept her focus. Her muscles began to shake with the energy drain. "Only a little more, " she told her body as she poured its resources into pushing the ship faster, her energy causing it to move. Ahead outlines of larger ships loomed in the distance. Rapidly they grew until she was able to pick out the details. Heavy artillery had already been rolled out and the two ships were putting on speed to get close enough to fire. The Storm Chaser was within range of the Docking Facilities defense network.

Elena allowed herself a tight smile at the sight. One of the heavy cruisers aimed its cannons towards the raiders. Blue white light sliced silently through the black of space. The beam missed the raiders, but the point hit its mark. The raiders slowed and turned away. Elena sighed with relief as the crew cheered. She eased the Storm Chaser to a normal speed and carefully uncurled her hands from the wheel, allowing inertia to keep them moving rather than relying on her personal reserves. She stretched and wiggled her stiff fingers while the muscles in her arms jittered. She could feel the exhaustion building behind her eyes, but pushed it away for later. Once she was docked Elena could pass out, until then there was much to do. The Storm Chaser glided between two of the heavy cruisers.

"Signal the cruise

rs, " Elena called. Dobbs, jumped to the bow, signal flags in hand. His wiry frame moved like a greyhound at full sprint. He signaled the cruisers that no injured were aboard and the ship was not damaged enough to require assistance into port. They signaled back their understanding and remained in patrol mode. Spin, the ship's cat poked her head into the pilot house and stared up at Elena. In the few weeks since Spin had come to Elena she hadn't grown much in anything but self-confidence. She still didn't like the lights of attacking cannons. On that Elena could agree.

"Things will be calm for a bit, " Elena told her. Spin wound around Elena's ankles twice and then stalked off to check on the rest of the ship. Elena stepped from the pilothouse, certain that inertia would keep the Storm Chaser on course. She couldn't help but look at the cruisers as they passed. Though no shadows fell, Elena shivered as they passed, their sheer bulk giving her pause.

'Smith would have loved those, ' she thought to herself as she walked the ships, checking for damage and getting assessments from her crew. When the military paid a visit to the Docking Facility all of the heavy cruisers were moved out of sight. The Council decided seeing ships of that size would have given the military too many ideas. Smith, as military representative, would have no doubt considered that withholding information, but Elena was okay with that. After all she had only been asked to tell the military about the channel riders. The heavy cruisers were incapable of riding the channels. They existed as a means of keeping the smaller channel riding merchant vessels safe from raiders like the Matoveran.

The Storm Chaser suffered no real damage, just a few scorch marks and Elena heaved a sigh of relief and leaned against the railing. She smiled as the cruisers passed and the Docking Facility came into sight. After five years being gone it felt good to be back on board. Most of the adrenaline drained leaving her exhausted, but a spark of it still remained. The thrill of it sang through her blood.

'Damned if I didn't miss it, ' she thought. Elena pushed away from the railing and walked back towards the pilothouse to ready the ship for docking. Spin followed her in after having made her own rounds of damage assessment.

"Hell of a way to make a living, " Elena told her. Spin sat down by Elena's feet and began grooming as Elena adjusted their headings towards port.

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