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   Chapter 26 Alliance

Alliance: Book Three of The Channel Riders By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 22621

Updated: 2018-02-26 15:12


Chapter 26

The rest of the trip to port was fairly quiet as Thompson and his crew now observed the ocean around them with a renewed interest. Elena wasn't sure what they intended to see in the deep waters especially since Benjamin left his fishing gear stashed away, but as they left her alone, she decided not to ask. When land became a smudge on the horizon, all of their attention focused towards it. As they approached, it steadily grew in size and Thompson began to use her telescope to stare at it.

"There is a ship, " he said, turning to Elena.

"There should be two, " she told him. He looked back through the glass.

"Oh yeah, there are two." He continued to stare. "Are they aliens?"

"Nope, " she told him. He turned to look at her.

"You know them?"

"Yup." Realizing he wasn't going to get much more, he turned back to the telescope. When they finally weighed anchor and began to load the dinghy with supplies, Thompson looked as though he had a million questions circling behind his eyes. To his credit, he kept them to himself and merely observed.

"I'm going to go and check my recordings, " Mateo told her as he leapt into the first boat. Once on the dock, he loaded up with gear before heading to shore. No doubt he would leave the gear in the central area the team marked out for initial habitation before retrieving his disks.

"Where is he going?" Thompson asked as Benjamin, Kiera and Lisa travelled between the dock and the ship, using the dinghy to transport goods to a growing pile on the stone dock.

"Shore, " Elena told him. Mateo disappeared into the jungle. A few minutes later, several people came out and headed down the stone dock and towards the ships.

"Who are they?" Thompson asked excitedly.

"People, " Elena replied, knowing that these people came with either Maria or Jasmine. As they watched the newcomers each loaded up with gear from the pile her folks were making and headed back towards shore. A very Smith-like vein was throbbing in Thompson's neck. Showing mercy she said, "They are with us if that helps any. They would have come in a few days ago."

"You staggered arrivals, " he said after a few minutes of thought. He seemed almost impressed. He turned back to shore. "So what is on the shore?" Elena looked at him. Since they picked Thompson and his crew up from their sinking ship she had been debating what to do when this question arose.

"You and your men are welcome to help haul the gear if you want to find out, " She told him. While she still wasn't too thrilled with Thompson finding out about this planet, she knew that confining the men to the ship would be a lost cause.

'And who knows, they might come in handy, ' she thought. 'I'm sure the military teaches its people all sorts of nifty survival tricks.' Idly she wondered if she could get Thompson to tell her what his crewmen's specialties were. She had a feeling he would make her trade information for information. 'He is going to find out a bunch of stuff anyway, maybe we can at least get something out of it.'

"You are going to let us off the ship?" Thompson asked. Apparently, he thought she was capable of confining him and his men.

"I traded the leg irons for coffee and we don't have a brig. Besides, we can use the extra labor." She told him. Elena gestured towards the sky where the clouds darkened and massed on the horizon. "We'll want this secured before the rain hits." Elena knew that several of the smaller buildings were checked for artifacts and found empty during the team's last visit and at least one of them would be used as a weather proof supply depot. She remembered Mateo mentioning it in one of their final pre-season meetings.

Her words seemed to be all the encouragement Thompson needed. Lisa stepped back as Thompson's crew began hauling gear, happy to once again be just an observer. The five men moved at a much faster rate than Benjamin and the two ladies were moving. Kiera, deciding that her efforts weren't as in demand, took a load of gear and headed to shore to join Mateo. Thompson joined her as the rest of his crew remained, working under Benjamin's direction to get the gear piled onto the docks. Once everything that was going was on the dock, Thompson's men joined the people taking the gear from the docks to shore and Benjamin, Lisa and Elena were left alone on the ship. The gear was speedily ferried inland.

"I suppose we ought to join them and make sure they remember a storm is coming." Elena said. Lisa fairly jumped with joy.

"I wore my new hiking boots just in case, " she said. Elena and Benjamin looked down at Lisa's feet.

"We have stuff to deal with blisters in the mess hall, don't wait until they go septic in this heat, " Benjamin told her with a smile. Lisa frowned.

"New shoes, lots of walking, " Elena clarified as they got into the dingy and headed towards the pier. Lisa looked slightly crestfallen and Elena patted her arm.

"They'll wear in soon enough, " Elena told her. They docked and climbed up onto the stone pier, where they each grabbed the last of the gear and headed to shore.

"Careful, " Elena reminded Lisa as she tried to look at everything while she moved. "I'd rather not have to fish you out." Lisa grinned.

"This is so amazing, " she told them. "I mean it's all amazing, but I kind of kept my mouth shut around our company so they didn't know I was such a rookie at this. Cause I figured that if they thought I didn't know anything they would take the guy they assigned to watch me and let him do something else which could cause trouble. Otherwise I would have been saying wow for the last three days. Did you see the two moons? So amazing." Lisa paused to gulp in breath and Elena and Benjamin laughed.

"I know, " Lisa continued. "This is all probably routine everyday stuff to you, but it is so cool."

"Actually it isn't routine for us. This is a whole new ball game. But if you can keep from telling Thompson and his crew that, I would appreciate it." Elena told her with a smile.

"Mum's the word, " Lisa promised. "But I thought you guys did this all the time?"

"We trade all the time, " Benjamin said. "We don't generally stake out unoccupied planets. But Elena does like to be different. Out running raiders is so last season." Elena scowled as Benjamin laughed. They reached the shore and slogged their way up the sandy beach and into the jungle. Once under the tree's canopy the temperature dropped and Elena heaved a sigh of relief.

"I hope they brought hats and sun block, " Lisa said, showing that she too noticed the change. Lisa fanned herself with her hand. "And I'm glad I put on bug repellant, there is no telling what is lurking here."

"I know the

a shook her head. She knew her cousin trusted Benjamin to keep her safe from whatever machinations Thompson was planning. 'Men, ' she thought, amused, despite herself.

"Ready to go, " Elena turned and headed back towards shore with Lisa, Benjamin and Thompson following.

"So how long will the ship be in port?"

"Storm Chaser, " Elena said.

"What?"

"You keep saying 'the ship'. Well, the ship's name is the Storm Chaser. It's bad luck not to name a ship. It's also bad luck to sail a channel rider without a cat, " She continued, more to give herself time to think than to educate him on sailing etiquette.

"Bad luck?" he said, once again sounding amused.

"I wouldn't sneer, " she told him. "You did both and look what happened to you." Elena could hear Benjamin chuckling as they walked on.

"Captain, " Thompson said, trying again. "How long with the Storm Chaser be in port?"

"Better, " she told him. "We will be leaving tomorrow if there are no complications." Elena caught the lift of Benjamin's eyebrows at her comment. The plan was for her to stay a few more days until the next ship came through with more of the support staff. Elena was hesitant to do so with Thompson and his people present.

They might pass the other ships on their way in, but Thompson would not be able to identify the people on board and with a little luck he might not be able to identify the ship. Elena wondered if they could lock the men in the crew's bunk from the time the other ship appeared on the horizon to the time it faded into a dark blob in the other direction.

'If we pass at night we might be able to pull it off.' Elena glanced over at Thompson, knowing both Benjamin and Lisa would wait to ask about the change in plans until Thompson was out of hearing range. 'Of course if we leave early we could take an alternate route, ' she thought. 'Swing wide to avoid the others and give them time to pass us before we head into the channel.' Elena had the feeling that storm or not, she would be holed up in her cabin studying the few maps they managed to make of the area.

They reached the pier as the first of the rain drops began to fall. The fat drops were scattered at first and the group moved down the already sea slick pier as fast as was safe. As they moved, Elena noticed Benjamin steadying Lisa with a grip on her elbow. This was a far cry from navigating courtrooms in a business suit and heels and Lisa seemed grateful for the assistance. They reached the dinghy as the skies fully opened and before they were halfway to the ship they were soaked through. Elena shivered as she helped Benjamin attach the dinghy's lift clamps to the sides.

When Benjamin moved towards the sea ladder, Elena waved him off and climbed to the deck herself. Once there she started the mechanism that would lift the dinghy from the sea. While there was a system of manual pulleys available to complete the process rather than relying on the machine, Elena felt that in the pouring rain was not the time to use it.

"You'd think I'd have remembered to bring my rain slicker, " She muttered to herself as she watched the dinghy rise to the level of the deck. Elena turned off the motor and moved to help Benjamin secure the dinghy so they could all board. Elena waved Lisa towards the pilot cabin once she was on deck. The sodden lawyer merely nodded and headed off to find dry clothes.

"I'll change and get something warm for dinner started, " Benjamin called. Thunder rumbled loudly and in the distance they could see small flashes of lightning. Apparently they only reached the edge of the storm. Benjamin and Thompson headed off towards the crew's bunk while Elena headed to the captain's quarters. As she entered, Spin looked up from her place on the center of Elena's bed. She took in Elena's bedraggled appearance and mewled at the sight of the puddle forming beneath her feet.

"I know, I know, " Elena said. She stripped quickly and grabbed a towel to dry off trying to spread the water across the floor as little as possible. With the rain, the temperature plummeted and her skin was now coated with goose bumps instead of sweat. Elena dressed quickly, grabbing a baggy sweater to combat the sudden chill. Before putting on a thick pair of socks, Elena hung her wet clothes up to dry and mopped up the floor with an old towel she kept around specifically for that purpose. With the floor dry, Elena pulled on her socks, wiggling her cold toes in the warmth of the socks.

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