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   Chapter 54 Storm Chaser

Storm Chaser: Book Two of The Channel Riders By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 16653

Updated: 2018-02-26 14:51


Chapter 54

"Good afternoon to you USS Maine, I hope you and your crew are doing well today, " Elena responded into the radio's microphone. Beside her Mateo and Benjamin tried not to laugh. There was a pause on the other line as though they were unsure how to respond. Elena guessed she was not following proper protocol. At this point she was not in the mood to make concessions.

"Good afternoon to you as well, " came the hesitant reply. Elena did not respond.

"I have a feeling they are going to want to come over for a chat, " Mateo said.

"I agree, " Elena said. She grinned wickedly. "We could always invite them to dinner." She looked to Benjamin.

"I could pull something fairly fancy together if you give me a couple of hours, " he told her.

"We'd have to make discrete plates for Andre and Kiera, " she said. "But I rather like the option."

"What are you thinking?" Mateo asked.

"I think we need to make this as un-military as possible."

"Switch the game up?" Mateo asked.

"Something like that, " She said. "Mostly I just don't feel like playing any more. The official channel of communication is Peter. They know that. So if they want to by-pass official channels then they are going to have to adapt."

"USS Maine to Storm Chaser."

"Still here, " Elena replied.

"The unnamed craft you assisted is the property of the United States government."

"I had the feeling it was governmental. Budget cuts must have hit pretty hard if you are scrimping on the basics." There was a pause.

"Basics." The word was repeated slowly as if the listener doubted his hearing. Elena wondered if she was speaking with the radio operator or if the captain put her on a loud speaker. She had the feeling that if it was the latter the USS Maine probably had a few crewmen trying to stifle snickers much the same way as Mateo and Benjamin were.

"Was there something you required USS Maine or were you just informing us of your prior claim of ownership so we would not think you were pirates and report you to the maritime authorities?" Benjamin pulled a notebook from his pocket and began writing.

"The officer in charge of this project wishes to speak with you."

"Yet a crippling karaoke experience prevents him from taking the microphone, " she responded. "I understand of course. The same thing happened to a friend of mine. She still gets the shakes when she hears 'The Safety Dance'."

"In person, " came the terse reply. Elena smiled. This was starting to be fun.

"I see." Benjamin handed her his notebook she read it nodded at him and turned back to the radio as he headed down to the galley. "So will it just be Thompson this time or will the others be joining him?" Again there was a pause.

"There will be three men sent over, " came the response.

"Wonderful. Dinner is at seven. We will expect your men a little before so they have time to freshen up before the meal. Dress is of course casual and under the circumstances we will not be expecting your men to bring the customary bottle of wine. Chef has informed me that tonight's menu will begin with stuffed mushrooms followed by a light salad, chicken pasta with a basil cream sauce and finished with what he refers to as drunken figs. I believe those are poached with a reduction of port and honey of some sort. Are there any food allergies or dietary concerns I should warn Chef of, peanuts, shellfish that sort of thing?"

"No, ma'am, no food restrictions but..."

"Very well, " Elena said cutting him off. "We will expect your men shortly before seven then. Until then, Storm Chaser out." Elena switched off the radio and Mateo broke out into laughter.

"Chef informs me, " he repeated shaking his head.

"I couldn't resist, " she said.

"This should be fun, " Mateo said.

"I think that depends on their sense of humor, " Elena replied thinking of Smith. "Would you mind letting Kiera know to stay in her cabin? And it might be a good idea to have Andre watch the wheel during dinner. That way no one will actually be able to identify him. Maybe Benjamin can send up a plate."

"Sure, " Mateo said. "I'll also let chef know how many to expect for dinner." Mateo left the pilot house chuckling to himself. Benjamin went to work, scents drifting up to Elena and making her hungry. In addition to letting Kiera and Andre know the basic plan, Mateo managed to clean himself up and change for dinner. He then relieved her at the helm and she retreated to her rooms to do the same. She settled on a nice shirt and a pair of slacks. She didn't want to seem too dressed up, but she did want to look like she and her crew made an effort at meal time. After all they had all been in worn jeans and t-shirts after a night of riding a storm the last time the military boarded her ship which was not an impressive sight. She put in a pair of emerald studs into her ears and ran a quick brush through her hair.

"Definitely need to make an appointment when I

ter. If you enter from earthside you would use the coordinates from your position on the globe. When you are sky side you would use the coordinates from your position in space. The entry coordinates are all relative to your current location."

"And you told this to Smith?" he asked. His eyes locked on hers. There was no more hesitancy in his gaze.

"Yes, quite some time ago, " she said. "I believe Peter has stressed it a number of times as well as he is now the official correspondent." Elena looked around and realized that everyone but Thompson had finished eating. "Are you finished?" She asked indicating his plate.

"Oh, yes ma'am, it was excellent I simply don't have much of an appetite."

"Of course, " She replied. "We'll send it back with you as it can be reheated." Again Benjamin and Mateo cleared the table. This time they returned with desert plates, each containing a couple of figs. Their tops had been split with an x so that they looked like blossoming flowers. The center had been filled with a dollop of sweetened cream. Again Elena marveled at Benjamin's ingenuity amazed that such creations could come from her ship's cupboard. Coffee and its various accoutrements joined the desert plates.

"And how do you determine coordinates sky side?" Thompson asked. The words skyside were hesitant and Elena wondered if the military had been using the term outer space.

"We use a very complicated machine, " she informed him.

"Really?"

"Yes, it is called the human brain. A pilot's brain to be precise."

"Surely you have sensors…" he began. "You can't just know where the channels are."

"Actually she can, " Mateo said. "That's why she is a pilot."

"I believe all of this was discussed before, " Elena told him.

"There has to be a way, " Thompson said.

"If you find it let us know. It would serve as an excellent safety device for when our pilots are incapacitated, " Mateo said. Thompson looked deflated for a moment. He took a bite of his desert and looked thoughtful for a moment.

"And you say all of this was discussed?"

"Yes, " Elena replied. "In great detail."

"With Smith?"

"Yes with Smith."

"I see, " anger replaced some of the defeated look in Thompson's eyes. Elena wondered if Thompson outranked Smith. If so she had a feeling Smith was going to be in some hot water very shortly. She also had the feeling there might be a new list of questions drawn up. Hopefully she could pass them to Peter.

"We will have to speak with him about that, " Thompson said.

"You might want to also discuss including a proper set of semaphore flags on board. Not everyone would stop for men waving white t-shirts."

"We will do that, " he assured her. Thompson and Murphy did not stay long after. They took up the Tupperware containing their extra crewman's meal and Thompson's leftovers. Thompson thanked them for the meal and they made their way back to their ship.

"Well, " Mateo said leaning on the rail and watching the raft's progress. "I have to say that was a very un-military like meeting."

"It was, wasn't it, " Elena commented. "I don't think many military meetings end with Tupperware. I guess we should go let the other's know they can come out again."

"Yup, and I'm going to see if Benjamin has any more of those figs."

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