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   Chapter 25 Haven

Haven: Book Four of The Channel Riders By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 18262

Updated: 2018-02-26 16:13


Chapter 25

The next morning saw a mass exodus as everyone was eager to get back to work. "You do know the people you left in charge are actually quite sensible, " Elena reminded Mateo after the third time he asked about the Storm Chaser's speed.

"I know, I know, " he told her. "But if something breaks, I'll need to fix it and if someone finds something strange, Kiera will need to know and if someone gets into trouble Melanie and Nate will need to be there."

Elena laughed and shook her head. Thoughts of her Aunt swam in the back of her mind, but Elena decided to keep them to herself for the time being. Despite some black looks, the engagement party and announcements went through without any major hiccups. She didn't want to cast a shadow on it.

"No-one is actually chasing you, " she told her cousin.

"Please, " he said frowning. "You should have heard them at the party. Suggested alliances, trading opportunities, partnerships." He shuttered theatrically. "All the crap I don't want to bother with."

"Ah the price of power, " Elena said with a laugh.

Mateo tilted his head to the side. "This is what you've been dealing with for the past year or so isn't it?"

"Yup, " She replied as she checked her heading. Despite her amusement at Mateo's desire for escape, she put on as much speed as she felt was safe. With Evan, both doctors and the two lead people on board, she was anxious to get everyone back to the planet on the off chance an emergency struck.

"It kinda sucks, " Mateo told her.

"I know, " she agreed. "Anyone who actually wants to be in power has to be crazy."

"True, " Mateo said. "Explains a lot of things though if you assume everyone in power is actually crazy."

To Elena's relief they made it to port with no incidents. Again they saw a large cluster of whales off the starboard. Evan hazarded a guess that it might be a seasonal migration. Elena saw him make a note to send someone to investigate.

The Storm Chaser stayed docked long enough to let Thompson check on his men and assure those still there that the rest of the ships for her House would be arriving soon. Consuelo decided to stay on the planet and work with the kitchen staff, claiming that Dockside Annie's could survive without her for a time. As they headed back to the channel, Elena passed three of the ships heading to port.

"We really were moving fast, " Thompson said. "I thought it was just me, but I think the Stardust left about the same time we did."

"I wanted the doctors back on the planet, " Elena explained, figuring that was the simplest answer she could give. Elena expected the feeling of tension deep inside her to loosen after the party, but if anything, it was growing stronger. The dreams stopped completely. In a way it was a relief not to have to participate in the same dream night after night, but Elena was finding it a little unsettling, as though something was holding its breath. They reentered Earth's oceans and with the exception of a minor squall made it to port safely.

"I'll be with the Rover a while, " Thompson told her as he left the ship. She nodded and watched him walk away. After the party he went back to being his normal self. No mention was made of the kiss at the door and his attitude reverted back to the standard slightly secretive mode in which he usually operated. Elena shrugged.

'Apparently he realized that kiss was as much a mistake as I did, ' she told herself. Jennifer went off with Meghan and Elena checked in first with Victor and then with her two managers, Roger and Susan. The world was apparently still on track.

Everything remained on track for the next three trips as Elena and every other ship that sailed for her House tried to get as many supplies to the planet as possible. As the season started to wind down, she loaded her ship with as heavy a cargo as possible, knowing that the others would soon have to start bringing people off of the planet. As Thompson's reappearance was eminent, she opted out of passengers and only took cargo. Thompson, however, did not reappear.

"He might be hiding out so that he can leave his men on the planet in the off season, " she reasoned.

"Can't you just send them home with one of the other groups?" Jennifer asked.

"Possibly, " Elena replied. "That will be Mateo's call. I let him know he can make it and send them with one of the outbound ships if he chooses."

Elena steered the Storm Chaser into the Marta and they left the black of the sky to land in the Atlantic. Elena took stock of the Marta as they left it behind. "Probably our last trip this season, " she told Jennifer. Jennifer studied the Marta and nodded, sensing its depth.

While it was still passable, by the time they got to port, unloaded their cargo and sailed back, there was the distinct possibility that it would be too shallow to pass. Elena wasn't sure how to feel about that. The season was a successful one and she couldn't have asked for anything more, but she expected the last half of the dream to come true. She snorted in derision at her own thoughts.

'Maybe it is a metaphor, ' she thought as they pulled into port. By the time everything was unloaded, the sky started to shade to red.

"Tomorrow we'll come back and go through all of the post season checks, " she told Jennifer. As this was her apprentice's first time seeing how a ship was dealt with in the off season, Elena wanted to go

ords were disturbingly familiar. She turned the radio off and looked out to sea. The Storm Chaser was rapidly approaching the Marta. It was also clear that the Marta was too shallow for them to pass. Elena took a deep breath. It was time.

"Hold course, " she told Jennifer. Elena concentrated on the channel, barely registering the fearful, Yes Captain of Jennifer's reply. She felt the edges of the channel, saw the many thousands of layers that comprised the edges. She focused on the bottom edge. The storm faded, the ship faded, all that existed was the channel.

Slowly the channel began to widen. She made it deeper, inching it wider to allow them passage. When it was wide enough she held it open with the force of her will alone as Jennifer steered them into the channel. Dimly Elena felt rather than heard the thump and knew Thompson sent a grappling line to attach the Rover to their stern. She ignored it as inconsequential and focused only on the channel.

The Storm Chaser made it through and the lack of storm was almost deafening.

"All clear, " She heard Jennifer say, noting the relief. Elena stayed focused on the channel as the Rover slid into view. When the Rover was safely through the channel, Elena allowed it to slowly return to its normal seasonal depth.

As she pulled her mind away from the Marta, a wave of exhaustion hit her, graying her vision and making her stumble. Elena took deep breaths as though she couldn't get enough air into her lungs. She became aware that Benjamin was holding her up, an arm around her waist. Both Jennifer and Benjamin were looking at her as though she had just performed a miracle. Benjamin eased her into one of the chairs built into the wall.

"You need to adjust the course, " Elena told Jennifer, noting the gauge. Jennifer jumped as though stung and spun to face the navigation controls. She adjusted as Elena looked to Benjamin.

"Thompson, " she said, gesturing to the ship behind them. Benjamin looked up as if noticing they were followed for the first time.

"I'll signal them to stay close and get you something to eat." He told her. Elena nodded, blinked and he was gone. She took another deep breath and blinked again, only to find him holding a bowl of soup in front of her. She took the bowl from him and slowly began to eat. Benjamin stayed close and Elena could feel both Benjamin and Jennifer watching her.

She felt better after the soup, less hollow. Her vision stopped fading around the edges and she didn't feel like she was going to pass out. Benjamin took her bowl and this time she actually saw him leave and return with another bowl and a cheese sandwich.

Again she ate, feeling better once the meal was inside her. She was bone weary though, but knew she had to stay awake long enough to get them through the next channel. Jennifer would not be able to hold it open long enough to get the Storm Chaser through, let alone the Rover. She rested in the chair until they were in position. With a loud groan, Elena pushed herself to her feet, swaying a little. Jennifer maintained control of the wheel so Elena only had to focus on the channel.

Elena opened the channel and held it open long enough for both ships to pass. "I think that is about it for me, " she said. "You know the way to port?"

"Yes Captain, " Jennifer replied. Elena nodded, trusting Jennifer to keep the ship on course. She started to tell Benjamin something about Thompson, but it got lost inside a yawn.

"Later, " she told him, stumbling over to the bunk. She lay down, closed her eyes and fell into a deep black well of oblivion.

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