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   Chapter 52 Storm Chaser

Storm Chaser: Book Two of The Channel Riders By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 13997

Updated: 2018-02-26 14:49

Chapter 52

The next morning at first light, everyone, but Elena, left the ship and headed to land. Spin watched them leave with an air of distain. Elena rubbed her ears.

"At least it will be quiet, " she told the cat. Spin meowed in response and went to find a sunny spot on deck to curl up. While it was bright on the ocean, with the morning mists kept low to the water, the land was still shrouded and looked vaguely dreamlike.

"I hope they step carefully, " she said aloud. She shrugged, recognizing something completely out of her control and went back to her quarters. She tried to swallow her impatience at others being allowed to do the searching without her. Elena cleared her maps to one side and took her laptop out of the protective casing that kept its circuits from being fried during crossings. While it booted up she gathered her notes for the proposals. A message box appeared as she settled herself in the chair.

"No wireless connection available, " She read. "Good to know, although I would be kind of surprised if there was a connection available." Elena closed the message box and began to formally prepare her proposals. Periodically, she shifted to her reader and ferreted out phrasings and protocol from Council records, other times she used her small collection of Guild approved books.

For lunch, she made herself a simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich and walked on deck in the bright sunshine. There was no sign of her explorers other than random aerial disturbances as the local birds reacted to the intruders' presence. The mist lifted as the sun rose and Elena hoped they brought enough water with them.

"It looks like a scorcher, " she commented. After a little while she gratefully returned to her somewhat cooler quarters. As the light faded, she heard the sounds of people returning and put her work aside for the day. She reached the deck in time to see them climb into the dinghy and begin their way back to the ship. She lowered the clamps and let the winch haul them up. The day's exertions had not dimmed their excitement. Elena could see they were hot, dirty and sweaty, but still eager to show off their prizes. Benjamin excused himself to go wash up and start dinner while Kiera and Mateo showed her their day's samples and Andre flipped through his slide show of new photographs.

After a quick clean up and dinner, Elena found herself left alone on the deck as she continued her mapping of the constellations. All of the others were exhausted from their early morning and heavy exertions.

"Besides, " She thought. "They will be doing it all over again in the morning." Elena yawned and realized she too would need to get to bed soon. She folded up her star chart and glanced at the map Mateo gave her. It showed the pier, the road and the location and size of the buildings they came across. Since Mateo's stride was just a little over three feet long, the distances were marked in approximate yards. Elena squinted at a second set of numbers placed below his yard measurements. They were written in a different hand and the notation at the bottom of the page regarding the second numbers made her smile. Apparently Kiera brought a pedometer with her and was keeping track as well.

"I wonder how you mark that on your daily exercise log, " Elena mused as she folded up the map and went inside. "Three hundred and eighty six calories burned while walking on an alien planet." Elena chuckled to herself. "I hope she isn't reporting to a personal trainer." When she reached her quarters she plugged her laptop into the small portable generator so it could charge in the night, changed into her pajamas and slid into bed.

The rest of the time on the planet passed much the same way. Elena would be left alone to work while the others explored, fleshing out and expanding their map as well as adding to the samples in the cargo hold. Fruits, nuts, and berries joined the fish, water, soil and plant samples. Andre's sketch pad was full and he was quickly running out of space on his memory cards.

In addition to the flora, Andre added images of birds, snakes and the impressions of several animal tra

icture of this?" she asked. "That way they know a door could be put in."

Andre dutifully took a picture. He shot a grin her way.

"Yes, I know I am restating the obvious, " she told him with a laugh. "I'm just nervous about the Librarians that's all."

"Of course, " he said. "I would be too. Direct away." Elena stepped through the door and into the atrium. She kept an eye out for snakes. As mentioned it was a wide space that ended in a wall with two doors. The space was dim and dark, the recesses lost in shadow.

"Must have been lit by torches, " she said. "There certainly wasn't a sky light."

"Which is a good thing as a skylight would have let in the rain after the building was abandoned, " Kiera commented. Elena didn't see any carvings that looked like her dream. For that she was grateful. Since Benjamin was getting fidgety she stepped back out of the building and let them lead her around the square. Apparently each of the roads led to clusters of smaller buildings.

"It is possible that the plaza around the central building served as sort of a market square, " Kiera said. "As to the function of the larger buildings they could be ceremonial, commercial, governmental, " she laughed. "Well, they could be anything really. Without any records it would take a vast amount of digging to come up with any theory that could be substantiated." They followed one of the roads leading to a cluster of smaller buildings.

"Smaller, I guess is relative, " Elena commented as each of the buildings she estimated around two stories tall. There were smaller buildings around these that had been covered over to the point of looking like small hills around the larger buildings. Elena took note and to Benjamin's relief she signaled that the tour could be concluded.

"I've seen what I need to pitch to all the parties involved, " she told them. The pace at which Benjamin marched them back to the ship made Elena laugh and Kiera keep the commentary to a minimum. She noticed Benjamin did not relax until they were back on board.

"So, " she asked him as the winch pulled them from the ocean's surface to the Storm Chaser's deck. "What did Mateo say would happen if I got hurt?"

"Oh the usual, " he said. "We'd be stuck here, those you had gathered to your House would be abandoned and shunned, commerce would fail and the world would basically come to an end."

"Really, " she said not quite bringing herself to laugh. She only thought of those on her ship being stranded and given no thought to the pilots she left at home.

"Something like that."

"I see. Well you will be happy to know we set sail for home tomorrow and will soon be in a lot less risky a position."

"Sure, " Andre answered. "As long as there aren't any sea monsters here."

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