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   Chapter 27 Alliance

Alliance: Book Three of The Channel Riders By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 12548

Updated: 2018-02-26 15:13

Chapter 27

With everyone settled in and drying off before dinner, Elena walked over to the map table that was built into the captain's quarters. The map they made with the aid of Mateo's probe recordings and various trips through was stretched across the table, its edges weighted down at the corners with small brass paperweights shaped like sea creatures. The route they normally followed from channel to port was marked with a dotted red line. However, during the course of the past season, Elena varied each trip, expanding the area she knew she could sail through. These routes were marked with gray dotted lines that almost faded into the background and could be easily ignored.

"The Mermaid's Plea and the Wave Hopper will take the expected route, " Elena muttered to herself thinking of the two ships soon to enter the channel. Calculating time she realized that the Mermaid's Plea would be entering the channel sometime in the next few hours while the Wave Hopper would follow three days later. She traced the lines calculating speed and distance. With luck they could pass the Mermaid's Plea in the dark, giving her a wide berth.

"With the moons behind us, there will be shadow enough to hide, " Elena said, tapping the map. "And if we swing wide enough, we can see the edge of one of the islands which might serve as a distraction." Elena did another series of calculations and realized that they could avoid the Mermaid's Plea and move through the channel before the Wave Hopper was in sight. "Since we are moving in the opposite direction, we could avoid them all together. Not a bad plan."

Swinging wide would keep Thompson and his crew from seeing the ships and their passengers. 'Not much I can do about the others they've met, ' she thought. Since Kiera's revelation about her ability with plants, Elena alternated worrying about exposing them to public view and trying not to think about it at all. She knew that Mateo asked all sorts of questions, not only of Kiera but some of the others on the team and was no doubt taking notes.

She also knew both Kiera and Mateo found her amusing at the moment. They both thought of Kiera's abilities as similar to Elena's, only earth based instead of water. Elena thought of her abilities to use the channels as just that, an ability. Like playing the piano or designing a building. Kiera's abilities just made the word magic spring to mind.

'Admittedly considering my musical ability, playing the piano is just as magical.' She thought, knowing that 'Mary had a little lamb' tapped out with her two pointing fingers was about the extent of her talent. Elena shook her head and pulled out her log book to make a few notes. She pushed the worry of exposing Kiera to scrutiny out of her mind. After all those with her ability knew how to keep out of sight, they had been doing it a long time. Her real concern at the moment was what to do with Thompson. The best thing to do would be to get them on board and head back to the Marta, find the USS Maine and drop them off. There would be fewer repercussions with the Council that way.

"Why do I think that isn't going to be as easy as I want it to be, " she muttered to herself as she jotted notes about the weather, channel depth and plans to take an alternate route back to the channel into her log book.

In time, dinner was called and it was a quiet affair. Elena could hear the patter of rain on the deck and the hull creaking as it shifted with the wind. She knew that both Benjamin and Lisa had questions, but would hold them until Thompson was not around. Thompson for his part looked amused by the entire situation.

'No doubt he is getting a lot more out of this run than he thought he would, ' Elena thought s

cribe every detail of the scene. "So what time today are we leaving?"

"As soon as your men are back on board, " Elena told him. Thompson smiled slowly at her and carefully used his fork to slice a bite of his omelet off of the whole.

"And what about the rest of your people?" he asked, scooping up the bite with his fork.

"They will be staying here for the season, " she told him. He nodded as though he expected this.

"Then we can pick my men up when we return."

"Oh, " Elena said icily. "Can we?"

"Of course, " Thompson said with a smile. "You don't have nearly enough supplies for the season here so it stands to reason that you will have to return to resupply them. They can last here until we return with the next shipment of supplies."

"I see, " Elena said. She took a sip of coffee. What had been delicious the moment before now felt like battery acid. Apparently her simple plan was thrown out of the window.

"Everyone here has a job to do, " Mateo said. "This isn't a resort community."

"They will earn their keep, " Thompson said. "My men have orders to assist you in your efforts while I am gone."

"In addition to shadowing our people and gathering information?" Mateo asked.

"Of course, " Thompson replied. He took another bite. "This really is a very good omelet."

"And what happens if there is a problem?" Mateo asked.

"They will follow your lead and the lead of Dr. Hawkins."

"And you will tell them this?"

"I already have, " Thompson said. "Once it was apparent that you were setting up some sort of semi-permanent expedition here, I told them that it would be advisable to have someone stay."

"So you will need to retrieve the ones who aren't staying?" Elena said.

"No, " Thompson said. "They all agreed to stay while I went on with you to your next port. After all it would be too easy for me to head to shore to pick up my men while you sailed off into the sunset, leaving me behind. Accidentally, of course."

"Of course." Since that had been Elena's back-up plan, she frowned. "I could just toss you overboard, " she said grumpily.

"No you couldn't, " Thompson said. "That would be murder since I can't swim. And if you had planned to kill me you could have just left me and my crew to drown when our ship was sinking."

"You can't swim?" Lisa asked with a frown.

"Not a stroke, " he said. "It is considered bad luck for a sailor to know how to swim." With that thought he turned his attention completely to his plate.

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