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   Chapter 15 Alliance

Alliance: Book Three of The Channel Riders By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 11092

Updated: 2018-02-26 15:05

Chapter 15

The base had not changed much since the last time she visited, although she hadn't really expected it to. It was still composed of blocky buildings painted in nondescript beige, or at least that is how the section she visited appeared.

'For all I know the other side of the base looks like Rainbow Bright's bedroom with multicolored hearts and rainbows everywhere, ' she thought. Somehow the thought of Smith having to exist in that sort of environment made her grin. Peter gave her an odd look and she swallowed the grin. Once they exited the vehicle they were brought to the same building as before and shown into the same conference room.

'That's not the same, ' she thought as they entered the room. In addition to Smith and Jonathan, Thompson was seated at the conference table. She could feel her mouth moving in a surprised 'O' and quickly shut it, hoping she didn't look as surprised as she felt.

'And I thought meeting with Jonathan would be strange, ' she thought. She was also surprised at herself for not thinking of Thompson. She gave him enough information to let him know that Smith had not given him all of the information she passed to him. 'Meaning I should have been expecting this.' Peter and Elena were shown to their seats and handed mugs of coffee.

"Thompson, " Smith said. "This is Peter Baranov and I believe you have already met Elena Calabrese." He did not look pleased by that fact.

"I have, " Thompson said rising and extending his hand to Peter. "Mr. Baranov it is nice to finally meet you." Peter shook his hand, looking somewhat bemused. Thompson turned his attention to Elena. "And Ms. Calabrese, a pleasure as always. Thank you for taking the time to meet with us. I realize you are quite busy and I will try to be as concise as possible." He shook her hand and then reseated himself.

"Yes, we are all glad she could make it, " Smith said sourly. Jonathan seemed to be trying to look at everyone in the room at the same time, as though trying to gage an appropriate response.

"Thompson has some questions." Smith's comment sounded snarky and Elena wondered if Thompson outranked Smith or was forced to cooperate with him by someone higher ranking.

'Perhaps it is that Thompson actually controls a ship rather than just having meetings with Peter.' Elena took a sip of her coffee, hoping to sooth the nerves that this meeting raised. 'I have got to start learning military insignia. This is like watching a foreign film without subtitles.'

"I do, " Thompson said realizing this was as much of an introduction as he was going to get from Smith. He reached into a bag placed by the foot of his chair and pulled out a thick file folder and a tablet of paper. He set the paper down on the table, pulled a pen from his pocket and flipped open the file folder. The folder contained a stack of typewritten sheets that had sprouted little red flags along the perimeter. Thompson flipped the pages until the page with the first red flag was on top. Elena could see several notations made in the margins of the page. Inwardly, she sighed.

'This is going to take a while, ' she thought. Thompson cleared his throat.

"In the meeting dated December 1st of last year you said, 'The GPS systems do not work once a ship has passed through the channel a

hose weren't his exact words, " Elena said with a smile. "I believe he was a bit more… ah, descriptive, shall we say."

"Uh huh, " Peter said. "The merchant who gave me a version of that line was downright pornographic. And I was told the treasure lay in heaps along the ground not neatly stashed in warehouses."

"Well, maybe I just look like the kind who likes their treasure in neat warehouses, " she said, ignoring the pornographic reference. "So what did they tell you?" She asked Smith. "High tech weapons? Channels deep enough for troop transport?" Smith pursed his lips, but from the flush on his cheeks she was fairly certain she was close to the mark. Elena sighed and rubbed her temple feeling the familiar sensation of a Smith induced headache coming on. "It's their job to find your weakness and make a sale. Everyone falls for something at one point or another.

"And what did you fall for?" Peter asked with a grin.

"None of your business, " she told him with an answering smile. Thompson cleared his throat. He folded the map of The Garan up and tucked it away. He pointed to his third map.

"And this one?" he asked. Elena looked down. It was the map they had started with.

"It ties to the Blood channel and I am pointing out nothing on it. In fact, I suggest you burn it."

"All the other channels are named for women. Why is this one called Blood?" he asked. Elena looked to Peter.

"The channel opens into a hostile environment. Anyone going through that channel dies. That is why it is called blood." Peter told them. "And I agree with Elena. It should be burned. Only death comes from that channel." Elena thought it was a simplified version but accurate enough.

'Especially since we have managed not to talk of alien races so far, although that might be one of Thompson's questions, ' she thought. 'Introducing them to the concept of aliens by bringing up the alien race that prefers humans slow roasted and covered in their own version of barbeque sauce is probably not the best idea.'

Thompson let the matter of the Blood channel drop and folded his map, returning it to his bag. He turned back to the transcript and flipped to his next set of questions.

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