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   Chapter 11 Alliance

Alliance: Book Three of The Channel Riders By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 21720

Updated: 2018-02-26 15:03

Chapter 11

"You really need to get some sleep, " Mateo said when Elena and Lisa entered the lab.

"Soon, " Elena promised both him and herself. She could feel her eyes start to itch and resisted the urge to rub them. "This is Lisa Franklin, " Elena said introducing Lisa. "She is going to act as legal counsel. Lisa this is my cousin Mateo and Kiera Hawkins. They are in charge of the scientific end of things." Hands were shaken all around and Mateo looked over at Elena.

"Legal counsel?" he asked. "Anticipating trouble?"

"Not really, " Elena said. "Well, no more than usual, but since Lisa can read a council law book the way you read Curious George goes to the Circus it seemed like a good way to avoid trouble."

"Hey, don't knock the monkey, " Mateo said. "That story had a twist at the end. Welcome aboard." He told Lisa.

"Looking forward to it, " she replied.

"I figured, " Elena continued. "That since we had the update meeting you asked for scheduled, Lisa could sit in and we would all be on the same page."

"Sounds fair, " Kiera said. "Pull up a chair." She patted Lisa on the shoulder. "It is a little hard to believe, but you get used to it. Sort of." They all pulled up chairs around Mateo's workbench while he cleared his mechanical bits from the surface. Once clear he placed a small metal disk in the center of the table. To Elena it looked like a silver tennis ball that had been squished into an inch thick oval. Since most technology looked vaguely alien to her, she had no idea if it was earth-based equipment or something he picked up on another planet. Mateo looked over at Kiera and she indicated that he was to begin.

"Okay we are going to start with the basic set up." Mateo fiddled with something on the underside of the squished metal tennis ball and a circular eye opened in the center of the top. It began to glow with a blue-white light and a second later a three dimensional image of the ruins of Planet RJ457 were laid out a few inches above the scarred worktable's top. Lisa gasped with surprise and Mateo grinned like a cat in cream.

"This is the settlement we have been studying. Kiera has been looking into the history, which is ongoing and she can get to later, but if you notice this pathway leading away from the crossroads." Mateo traced a line, his finger slightly distorting the projected image. "You'll find more modest structures." Mateo looked towards Kiera who picked up the discussion.

"The buildings here are arranged in a semicircular pattern radiating away from the main road. If you look here you see what might have been an area for a market or commerce. It is open aired space but paved so it is unlikely it was used for planting. The buildings in the first set of arcs appear to be more industrial in nature. There is evidence that could suggest tradesmen or craftsmen." Kiera reached over to a stack of papers. "The preliminary evidence…" Elena held up her hand to stop her.

"I'm sure the evidence is very interesting and I can't wait to look at it later but perhaps we can just stick to the basics today?"

"Of course. Sorry. This is just so exciting. An entirely new culture."

"And so far you haven't been able to share it with anyone, " Elena concluded.

"Yeah, " her excitement dimmed a little. "But that may change as soon as we have a team put together. Anyway back to the basics. Beyond these buildings are a set of what might be residences. They are fairly modest. Perhaps tradesmen and craftsmen's homes. Beyond that though the buildings become even more modest and have less detail work, less space both inside and around them. Possibly this would be the less skilled workers or even just the general population. The bulk of the buildings are these." She paused as the image re-oriented itself.

"Once you move past these rings of general residences you come across a few larger buildings, " she continued. "These have spaces surrounding the houses and while not elaborately decorated, have more … substance I guess you could say, to them. Also these exterior spaces all have small walls around them and most of these spaces have similar plant growth as if the same types of plants were allowed to go wild within the enclosure once they ceased being tended."

"Overgrown gardens?" Lisa suggested. She was staring at the image, fascinated.

"Exactly what I was thinking, " Kiera said with a smile. "We've taken a sampling of these plants especially and may be able to figure out what these people ate." As if remembering the commercial nature of the enterprise she added, "And possibly so that we can eat it as well."

She turned back towards the map and pointed towards one of the arcs of buildings that came closer to the road. "These smaller structures are also in this row but appear to be heat damaged. There is some evidence, which I won't go into now, that they might have been used as ovens of some sort. Then there is a space with a pathway and another arc of much larger buildings. Perhaps this was some sort of class distinction with the ruling class or public officials or whatever living in larger homes with separate space between them and those that served them. Or maybe these were temples or public buildings. We haven't had much time to investigate these as much as I would like during this season." She looked towards Mateo who picked up as she backed away.

"What we have decided is that these mid-range areas just before the break with the garden areas might prove to be a good location for the base camp." He fiddled with the metal disk again and the image changed. This time they were looking at a close up of one of the mentioned buildings.

"Our initial camp will be in the cleared space between these and the larger buildings, essentially in the road. Kiera's team will clear the buildings for occupation as soon as possible with everyone realizing that minimal adjustments will be made and that any artifacts found will be turned over to the team for study. It isn't ideal, " he continued casting a look towards Kiera. Elena had the feeling she had not wanted the buildings occupied at all.

"However, " Mateo continued. "There is evidence of larger predators similar to the large cats in our tropical and semitropical areas and I want our folks in something more secure than tents should any of them pay a call."

"I agree, " Elena said. "We will definitely be sensitive to the archeological needs. Having the Librarians there will h

suelo. The large woman had her hair tied back in one long braid instead of the customary two wrapped around her head. The green and purple stripes were alternately shown and hidden. She stepped inside confidently and Elena could see a large canvas bag over her shoulder and a very large medical kit held by the handle in her left hand. Elena stepped out of the way and let the woman work.

"Cleaned?" Consuelo said, studying Elena's handiwork. "Good, " she said approvingly. She peeled back one of Benjamin's eyelids and then looked at Elena.

"From my appendix, " Elena said. She showed Consuelo the prescription bottle. The woman nodded.

"Good thinking." She said. With that she went to work with creams and bandages and other random medical paraphernalia. She spoke to Elena when an extra set of hands was needed to hold something or hand it to the eccentric chef. Otherwise Elena might not have been in the room.

"He will need a place to sleep. For now that is best." Consuelo said eyeing her work. "I do not know how far the two of us can move him."

"The couch pulls out into a hide-a-bed, " Elena said. Consuelo nodded.

"I can get him up and hold him out of the way if you can pull the bed out." Elena nodded and the two of them cleared Consuelo's excess medical supplies out of the way. Elena then stepped to the side as Consuelo bent down and said something to Benjamin. He looked blearily at her and then nodded as though his head was a little too heavy for his neck.

The chef braced her arms under his as though giving him a bear hug, although Elena could see her carefully avoiding the injury on his chest. With a mighty heave, she got him to his feet and managed to help him stumble a few steps away from the couch. Elena quickly removed the couch cushions and tugged the hide-a-bed out from its depths. She unfolded it and Consuelo eased Benjamin down on the naked mattress.

While Consuelo was getting the big man settled, Elena went to the linen closet and retrieved some of her extra blankets. She passed them to Consuelo who tucked Benjamin in as though he were a small child. Once that was finished she straightened, looked out of the window for a moment and then looked at Elena.

"So then, " she said. "Breakfast? I think we two have earned it. Besides it will be a while before he can tell us what happened."

"Agreed, " Elena said. She thought of the contents of her fridge and grimaced. "Of course I will have to go and get something to eat though." Consuelo frowned and then waved her hand dismissively in the air.

"I can cook with most anything. Like those Chefs of steel the television talks of." Elena frowned and then her brain clicked on.

"You mean the Iron Chef shows?" She asked. Consuelo turned and walked towards the kitchen.

"Iron rusts, " Consuelo said over her shoulder. "I am solid as steel. That is the difference." Consuelo pulled open the door to the fridge and stopped to stare. Elena was certain she could see the chef's inner steel soften. Consuelo reached in and pulled out the half bottle of wine. She closed the door to the fridge and opened the freezer with her free hand. She stared at the freezer and pulled out the frostbitten remainder of a pint of chocolate ice cream. She bumped the freezer closed with her shoulder and turned to face Elena, one hand holding the wine and one holding the ice cream. She looked at Elena with a mixture of amusement and horror.

"I haven't had a chance to go shopping since I have been back, " Elena said. "It's been kind of busy."

"Ah, " Consuelo said. She placed the two items on the counter and then rubbed her hands against her legs as if cleaning them. "Well then, I shall return shortly."

"I can go out and get stuff if you just tell me what you need." Elena said.

"I think it will be best if I go, " Consuelo said casting a wary eye at the two remaining items on the counter. "I can get what is needed both for breakfast and for when Bennie awakens. He is likely to be quite hungry."

"I see, " Elena said. She tried to give Consuelo her credit card but was shooed away.

"I will deal with it and return shortly." Consuelo said. She left the apartment, pulling the door shut and leaving Elena alone with the wounded but sleeping Benjamin. As if on cue, the big man began to snore.

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