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   Chapter 14 Alliance

Alliance: Book Three of The Channel Riders By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 15730

Updated: 2018-02-26 15:04


Chapter 14

Elena smiled as she flipped through the pages of The Swift's log book. Most of the trips occurred before she was born, some before her parents even met. All were written in her mother's handwriting. As she flipped the pages, a picture slid out from the back cover. Elena picked it up and looked at it. The photo was a vacation shot and showed her and her parents posing for the photo on Questan. The planet's two suns were clearly visible and the vague outline of neighboring Hecfa could be seen near the horizon where it had gone dusky as the first of the suns began to set.

Hecfa's rings, very much like Saturn's could be seen tilted so that it nearly vanished into the horizon. The three of them were smiling as an accommodating stranger took their picture. He was a Stedovan, Elena remembered and fumbled a bit with the camera as if unsure which of his many hands to grasp the small box with.

Her father had a slight sunburn across the bridge of his nose and her mother had a hand clamped to her hat in an effort to keep it from blowing away. Elena's hair fell in tangled ropes from her time playing in the ocean. The air smelled hot and humid, with a tang from the salty ocean behind them. Elena's smile had a gap where the first of her baby teeth came out to make way for her adult ones.

She smiled sadly for a second and closed her eyes, feeling the warm sun on her skin and the sugar soft sand beneath her toes. She could almost taste the cova fruit that the locals seemed to put in everything from spicy and savory dishes to deserts and drinks. She opened her eyes, wiping away the threatening tears and propping the photo against her pen holder. A cough sounded near the door and Elena jerked her head up. Lisa stood, somewhat hesitantly in the doorway.

"Is this a bad time?" She asked. Elena smiled, swallowing her sniffles.

"No, this is fine, " she said. "I have an interview in a little while though."

"Interview?" Lisa asked with a frown.

"I am trying to hire an assistant before I get completely swamped."

"An assistant? Really, " Lisa said with a grin. "Who knew you were such a mogul."

"I didn't used to be. It's a relatively new occurrence." Elena assured her. "What's up?"

"Well, " Lisa said, settling herself in one of the seats. "I spent a great deal of time reading this weekend." She pulled Elena's reader from her bag and placed it on the desk.

"Uh huh, " Elena said. "You can't have read everything on there already."

"Well no, " Lisa confessed. "I didn't. However, half-way through a fascinating treatise on determining the availability of trading rights in unclaimed territory, I was taken with the itch to start making notes. Bob asked me what I was reading and I told him I was helping you out with a project. He didn't ask for details, " Lisa smiled softly. "He never does about legal matters, they make his eyes cross."

"That is understandable, " Elena said slowly, unsure where the conversation was going. "They make my eyes cross too."

"He also seemed very pleased that I was occupied with a new project while still applying for other work."

"You don't deal with boredom well, " Elena reminded her. Lisa frowned.

"I know. You didn't let me in on this just to keep me from being bored did you? I mean there is actual stuff you need done?" Elena couldn't help laughing at the question.

"You mean did I give you just busy work?"

"Something like that."

"No, " Elena said. "I admit that I was freaked out when my book went missing and a bit freaked out when you went looking on your own for info on the Guild. They tend not to like that by the way."

"So I gathered."

"But, " Elena continued. "Once realizing I actually sort of had a lawyer around that I could use, I realized there were a lot of things I needed to use you for."

"Really? You aren't just saying that to make me feel useful?"

"Really, " Elena said. She opened her purse and took out the small palm sized notebook she carried around to jot down random notes. She flipped open to her list and handed the notebook to Lisa.

"You made a list?"

"Yeah, I made a list, " Elena said. "I make a list for almost everything."

"Legal stuff I need answers for but don't have time to look into, " Lisa read.

"I wasn't sure what else to call it, " Elena said somewhat defensively as Lisa skimmed the list and shook her head with mild amusement.

"This is quite a list."

"Getting longer by the minute. Can you add Friend of the Guild to the bottom of the list." Lisa took out a pen and jotted the phrase down.

"What exactly is a Friend of the Guild?"

"I don't know, " Elena said. "That's why I need it looked up. The

ettled and a new agreement was in place."

"Oh, " Lisa said. She glanced at her notebook as if unsure how to actually note the new information.

"I was thinking of ordering some lunch. I've got to get a few things settled before Peter picks me up for my next meeting. Do you want anything?"

"Depends on what you are getting."

"Haven't decided, " Elena told her. "Figured I'd also check in with the others." She indicated the lab across the hall.

"Works for me." After checking in with the others, Chinese food was ordered, divvied up and consumed over a working lunch. By the time Peter arrived, the leftovers were stashed, no doubt to become Mateo's dinner, and an e-mail containing the details for a possible ship building location were sent to Riko's secure server. Elena followed up the e-mail with a call to let Riko know the information was sent and hung up wishing she hired Victor that morning just so she could have delegated him to make the call.

"You look like you swallowed a lemon, " Peter said by way of greeting. Lisa had disappeared back into her office to no doubt add to her ever growing list of questions and Mateo and Kiera were arguing over camping equipment.

"Riko wanted to know if I'd seen Douglas recently." Elena said. "Apparently he has temporarily gone off her grid." The thought made her question recent events, but she was not about to share that knowledge with Peter. Spies in his house did not have a long life span and as angry at Andre as she was, she didn't want to be the one to sign his death warrant. She looked at Peter and before she could stop the question it came tumbling from her lips. "Did you help Victor with his name change?"

"Yes, " he said, seeming startled by his own response.

Elena smiled. "That explains a lot. I'll need to grab my purse and a notebook, " she told Peter. He frowned and she paused. "Will I not need a notebook?" she asked hesitantly, unsure of his frown. He shook off whatever though he had and smiled.

"I do not know, but it would not hurt to bring it." Elena retrieved her things, calling out to the others to let them know she was leaving and then followed Peter down the stairs. Thomas was waiting with the car.

"Is something wrong?" she asked once they were both in the car and underway.

"I didn't mean to tell you that, " he said.

"About Victor?"

"Yes."

"Oh." Elena was unsure what other response to make.

"I would appreciate you not passing that information on to anyone else."

"All right, " she answered, not sure if he wanted to keep his answer or the fact that he gave it to her a secret. They passed the rest of the trip in silence with Peter not even trying to engage her in small talk. Somehow it was odder than when he was trying to convince her he wasn't a ruthless mob boss.

"Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks so, " she thought noticing Thomas was frequently glancing into the rearview mirror to check on his boss. It was almost a relief to be stopped by the guards at the entrance to the base.

"And how strange is that, " she thought as the gates lifted and they went inside.

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