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   Chapter 12 Skyside

Skyside: Book Five of The Channel Riders By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 15419

Updated: 2018-02-26 16:24


Chapter 12

The next morning Elena woke and stretched in the unfamiliar bed. A small amount of light was filtering in, around and through the thin curtain that was strung up for a bedroom door. In the dim light Elena could tell that Spin was still curled up on her extra pillow. Absently, Elena ran her fingers over the wooden curlicues of her bedframe. Mateo told her that bedroom furniture was provided, but even in the dimness of the night shuttered house she was able to tell these weren't simple knock together temporary pieces. Great care went into their creation.

The bed was large with a carved wooden headboard and footboard that somehow managed to blend with, but not exactly match the low dresser and large armoire. Rounding out the furniture was a large desk with locking drawers and a small filing cabinet for personal papers. She shifted a little in bed, feeling the sheets rustling around her. The sheets were as soft as a cloud and warm enough that she had not needed to unfold the thick blanket placed over the foot of the bed.

"Apparently working with the textile merchants and woodworkers has its perks, " she muttered as she forced herself out of bed. Spin cracked open an eye, watching Elena's movement with an amber eye. Elena dressed quickly and Spin lost interest, closing her eye and seeming to go back to sleep. Elena was content to let her be. She had no idea how to keep the cat in the house and was well aware there were large predators not too far away who wouldn't mind a kitty sized snack.

Elena stepped into the room and found Benjamin setting her boxes of papers on the end of the table. Much of the Storm Chaser's cargo was sent along and she caught the big man mid-tidy.

"Morning, " Elena said, making him jump. "Sorry."

"No you're not, " Benjamin said. "You are just paying me back for all the mornings I snuck up on you."

"True." Elena confessed.

"Don't worry, I supervised the unloading myself and we just moved the basic cargo from the hold, your boxes of paper and your personal bag of clothing, which was already packed."

"Thanks, " Elena said. "I don't know if I'll need the papers for the meeting, but something tells me it's better to be safe than sorry."

"True, " Benjamin said nodding.

"So where are the others? Did I oversleep?"

"You did not, " he assured her. "The first wave of diners is just now crowding into the mess tent. Will went to check on his men. He said something about preparing for the arrival of Peter. Jennifer went to check on Devon and his girls to make certain everyone was settled. So it is just you and me, whenever you are ready to eat."

"I am more than ready to eat, " she told him. "And god knows I'm going to need to fuel up to get through today. Most people have been here long enough to let the fear calm and petty grievances rise."

"Ah yes, the lovely box of issues, " Benjamin pointed to a stack of odd sized pages at the end of the table. "I emptied it when I woke up this morning and I think it is full again. Let me empty it out again and we can take off." Benjamin retrieved the box and upended it on the table top. Elena stuck her hands in her pockets, resisting the urge to pick up and read the pages. She knew once she started she wouldn't stop. Her stomach rumbled.

"After breakfast, " she promised it. Benjamin finished emptying the box and set it back by the door. "Latrines first, then breakfast, " she told him.

"I can live with that, " he told her with a smile. They headed out towards the latrines.

"So, did you sleep well, " she asked.

"Like a dream, " Benjamin replied. "Those sheets were like angel fur."

"Do angels have fur?" Elena asked with a smile.

"Not anymore, " Benjamin replied. "It was all taken for my sheets." After a brief stop in the latrines, they made their way to the mess tent. It seemed that every ten seconds someone said good morning to her. Elena smiled, nodded and said good morning back. Benjamin smiled at her as she realized that all of the greetings were respectful and polite.

"I think I preferred when they called out to me in the market, " Elena muttered under her breath.

"They need the clear chain of command to stay calm, " he reminded her.

"I know, I know, " she said grumpily.

Benjamin laughed. "Why don't we find you some coffee before your meeting?" he suggested.

"Good idea, " she replied. A thought occurred to her as they entered the mess tent and she paused a second. "We need to send someone for Akashi so he can attend the meeting as well."

"I wonder if Mateo's been keeping him posted?" Benja

contested by other races, earning their animosity at a time when the Guild was the weakest it had ever been. However, trade was extremely limited and with so many ships grounded at port, things would rapidly become tense. People wanted normality to resume. At the moment shock was keeping everyone calm as they began to process. Elena knew that would soon wear off and a plan would be need to be in place.

She frowned as she began to climb the steps to her new residence. 'Screw the Council, ' she decided as she reached the top of the stairs and turned to survey the newly enlarged village. The Council left without a backwards glance, assuming everything would be fine in their absence. It wasn't and she picked up the slack.

"And if they object they can do so after the fact, " she said as she entered the space. "For now we do what needs doing. If they decide to kill me, I'll deal with it then."

"I doubt they'd try to kill you right away Elena, " Even said with a half-smile. "Not if you manage to keep everything in order during their absence. They'll probably want to, at least some of them anyway. But I'm sure they'll wait a bit."

"Or wait until Therese gets lucky, " Elena said smiling slightly. She joined Evan at the table as they waited for the others to arrive.

"Are you thinking of doing something the Council might not approve of?" He asked. He sipped a mug of tea as she drank her coffee.

"Possibly, " Elena said. She glanced around to see if Thompson returned. "I was going to see about possibly opening new channels for trade."

Evan nodded. "I wondered how long that would take."

"Oh?"

Evan chuckled. "You needn't look so surprised, it was a logical conclusion. You learned to control the Calling and developed the ability to open a new channel. You are training your pilots to control the Calling. Logically, soon they will be able to open new channels as well."

"Well it is logical, but thus far we've avoided talking about it." Elena told him, somehow unsurprised that he was the first one to take that logical step. Even if the Council guessed, no one mentioned it. She figured they were simply biding their time.

"True, which was a smart move on your part. If you'd like I can assign one of my senior staff to serve as a resource, checking to see about prior claims and possible risks that we might have on file as you start to move forward."

"That would be great, " Elena told him, sighing with relief. They heard footsteps on the stairs.

"I will send someone in the morning." He told her. Elena nodded as the others started to file in. Soon Benjamin, Thompson, Akashi, Mateo, Kiera, Simon, Sam and the Commander were all seated with Elena and Evan around the table. She was slightly amused to see that everyone brought a packet of information as well as a beverage. Before settling himself, Benjamin put what looked like a battery operated coffeepot on a side table and set a pot on to brew. Realizing that they were all looking at her, Elena smiled.

"So, who wants to go first, " Elena asked.

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