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   Chapter 46 Storm Chaser

Storm Chaser: Book Two of The Channel Riders By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 15127

Updated: 2018-02-26 14:46


Chapter 46

Elena tapped the steering wheel. Kiera really did sound like a good idea. One of the reasons she had not made a call to some of the listed personnel in the guild is that they were not loyal to her family and she had virtually no chance of swearing them to secrecy. Sure, they would sign the papers, but realistically if their Head of House asked, they would tell. That was just the way the Guild worked. You may take a job outside your family, but in the end it was the family that held your loyalty. Someone not tied to the Guild by any other connection would not have that problem. The time when secrecy was no longer even remotely possible was fast approaching, but she hoped to stretch it just a little longer.

"At least until I have a full plan in place." Bowing to the inevitable, Elena reached for her cell phone and when she stopped at the light she called Peter's number. She half expected to be sent to voicemail and was startled when he actually picked up.

"Good evening Elena, what a pleasant surprise."

"Hello, " Elena said mentally re-phrasing the conversation in her head. Her opening line for leaving a voicemail was now obsolete. "Hi, " she repeated. He chuckled. "Sorry I wasn't expecting a person, " She explained.

"Of course, I rarely allow actual people to answer my phone." She could hear the amusement in his voice and rolled her eyes, more at herself than him.

"Actually I was wondering if you knew how to vet a non-guild member for potential guild employment."

"Ah, you have someone you wish to hire?" She could hear his interest sharpening.

"Possibly, " she said. "I need to find out if she would be allowed before I look at her seriously."

"And is there a reason you would look to this particular non-guild member before a regular guild member?" Elena shrugged and realized he couldn't see her. She pulled into the garage behind her building and parked.

"She is already here, " Elena answered, ignoring the qualifications angle. "We've already had so many new people move in that I figured using someone local would attract less suspicion."

"That is a very good idea, " he said. "Since you are listed not only as the Head of your own House, but as a friend of the Guild you are only required to have one council member vet your choice. Given your situation, the Council at large presumed you would proceed into any arrangements with caution." Not for the first time Elena squirmed at the thought of the Council discussing her. "I can of course act in that capacity if you would give me the name or names." Elena thought for a minute and then gave him Kiera's name.

"I know that due to her being my neighbor Smith and Jonathan have had contact with her, " Elena told him. "How long do you think it will take to have her vetted?"

"Are you in a hurry?" he asked, once again sounding amused. Elena was actually getting a little tired of people being amused by her.

"Actually yes, " she responded. There was a pause and Elena fought the urge to apologize for her tone.

"I can have that information for you this evening, " he said, the amusement drained from his voice and his tone was cautious.

"That would be wonderful, " Elena said, unsure if she angered him or not. By this point she could tell his shift in facial expressions, but without the visual, his tone could mean anything. She didn't push it and was soon hanging up the phone and going up to her apartment.

After her shower, Elena felt disinclined to go out again in search of groceries and ordered Chinese takeout from the shop around the corner. She flipped through the photographs as she ate, wondering about the people who once called this place home. With the atmosphere and such similar to earth, she imagined they would be carbon based life forms, but she knew better than to assume they would look anything like humans. She smiled at the pictures. Anyone who spent any time on the Docking Facility would never make that mistake.

She had the feeling Mateo's assessment of an abandoned planet was correct. While intelligent life could have many forms, she was usually able to tell from the first entry into a channel a little about the world. The images in the photographs matched her dreams as well as the few glimpses she had gotten with the ship in proximity to the open channel. She flipped through her journal of old entries to make certain of some of the details. They matched and all of those same senses told her there were no sentient beings located on

ieved."

After a while she decided bed was a good option. Her hair was dry and her mail sorted. She shook her head as she took all but eight envelopes off to the trash can. As always she wondered how to actually stop the circulars from arriving in her mail box each week. And as usual she found no solution. She drifted off still trying to puzzle it out in a vague way. As she drifted into dreams, the paper of the circulars became leaves.

The leaves turned into plants and Elena found herself wandering in the jungles from the pictures. The colors were almost painfully brilliant. The air was thick with moisture and fragrance. Elena walked down one of the overgrown road beds. The plants offered a nice cushion for her steps, but beneath them she could feel the solidity of the rock.

In the dream, she was approaching one of the buildings. She studied it as she moved. It was composed of the blocks of gray stone she saw in the pictures. They were much larger than she suspected. Elena stretched out her hands to either side and couldn't touch both sides. The top stood at least three feet above her head and when she peered down to where the stone met the earth she got the impression that part of it was buried. The space between the stones was barely big enough to slip her fingernail and there was no mortar between the joints. Where the sunlight hit the stone she could see it was not simply a uniform gray but there were flecks of blue, silver and copper sparkling in the sunlight. A bead of sweat formed at her hairline and rolled down her neck. Elena shivered slightly with its passing. She stepped into the shadows as she moved around looking for an entrance.

Once in the shadows, the temperature dropped. Elena blinked hard in the lack of bright sunlight as her eyes adjusted. The road stopped at the building and a small pathway hugged it like a sidewalk. She came to an indentation on the wall of stone. It was not a door but the stone that comprised this section of the wall's face was set back from its neighbors by two feet. Elena reached in to make certain this was not a door. Her hand hit stone, but this was not the smooth stone that comprised the rest of the rock face. Its entire surface was carved.

Elena reached into her pocket and pulled out a small flashlight. She switched it on and let the beam play on the carvings. Much of the door was carved with simple horizontal squiggly lines. The primitive part of her brain said water, an insight helped when her eyes picked out the image of what could have been a boat. She focused her light on the boat. The image reminded her of a drawing she had once seen in a museum of a Viking long boat. The one difference being that this boat had huge wings that appeared to be lifting it out of the water and into the sky. Elena reached out and touched the boat. As her hands touched it the stone dissolved and Elena fell into the darkness of the inside of the building. She awoke in her bed before she hit bottom.

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