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   Chapter 17 Skyside

Skyside: Book Five of The Channel Riders By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 17965

Updated: 2018-02-26 16:27

Chapter 17

As expected, the morning quickly became chaotic. Even as she dressed, Elena could hear the buzz of excitement as it filled the town. Notice was posted that the routes would soon be open and everyone wanted to be the first on their way, as long as they had a patrol ship protecting them, of course. Elena smiled, knowing it was only this fact that kept captains and pilots alike from lining up at her door and demanding escorts to the channel at first light.

She sipped her coffee and ate her bowl of hot grain cereal at her long meeting table rather than venture forth into the fray. Benjamin suggested it and she agreed. If the port was going to function properly, it needed to do so without her running interference. Merchants would need to get used to dealing with the harbor master and he with them. Simon would help keep Sam on track and help to establish a routine. As she had plans to ask Simon to take over on the way station once it was built, the more settled things became here, the better everything would be.

The new activity in no way diminished her meeting load however and Elena soon found herself interviewing and approving crews for her pilots' ships as well as dealing with the daily minutia. To her surprise, work crews designated to build small houses outside of town were on her agenda and after scanning the notes Elena realized Kiera and Evan figured out a system of land allocation and the small houses were the prelude to establishing farms.

After agreeing to the work crews, Elena needed to send confirmation back to Evan and took the opportunity to send her notes on the new channels to him as well, knowing he would assign someone to discretely begin research. As promised, Benjamin had a work crew in the shower room almost as soon as she had finished her morning ablutions. While the thumping and banging as well as muffled conversations were distracting at first, Elena was soon able to relegate it to the background and eventually stopped thinking about them at all.

Although she did wonder what exactly he was up to, she didn't have long to ponder it. Shortly after lunch, Eric, the labor manager for the work crews, brought two teenage boys to her attention. Both of the boys were covered in mud and wore pained expressions. As the burly man had a hand gripping one ear from each of them, she understood where the pain came from. After Eric calmed down she learned that the boys were responsible for some sort of prank that ended up fouling a generator and stopping one of the work crews cold. She assigned them three days working to help dig out the new latrines and sent messages to their parents.

"We are going to have to get some sort of school put together soon, " Benjamin warned her. "While there are a couple of adults watching the younger kids play in the park, many of the older ones are more or less left on their own. I think some of them are starting to get bored."

Elena shook her head. She was raised to be a pilot and eventually a captain. Her grandfather always harbored aspirations that one day she would sit on the Council. No one ever mentioned that part of her duties would involve setting up a school. "I'll talk to Evan, " Elena promised him. "Maybe he can let one of the scriptorium like rooms they built serve as a class room until we get something more permanent."

At every turn it seemed a new and unexpected challenge was thrown her way. "At least I'll never be bored, " Elena told herself as the days slipped by. Evan began gathering what school teachers they had and augmenting them with some of the junior Librarians to form a school.

Lucas and Melanie treated the scrapes and bruises that came with daily life and asked for a team to gather local plants and things that could be turned into medical supplies as their supplies started to dwindle. She helped organize more exploratory teams to extend their knowledge of the planet in general. As the ships began to leave port, Elena worked with Consuelo to make certain they and the patrol ships sent to protect them were able to restock before shipping out.

There was still some tenseness regarding Kiera's people and Elena felt a great deal of relief as the wedding date approached. She memorized her lines and in between meetings stood for a final dress fitting for her role in the merging of the two houses. As the day approached, Elena took the time to visit Mateo where he was finishing up the last of the pieces needed to assemble the way station. At the mention of the wedding Mateo's eyes darted around the room, scanning for Rene as if expecting him to leap from the shadows.

"Nervous?" she asked wondering if he was regretting his decision to marry. Her cousin had never been one to settle down and she wondered how he was taking this change.

"Only about getting everything right, " he told her. "If it were just me and Kiera I'd be fine. Hell I'd be more than fine." He smiled gently to himself and Elena found herself relaxing a little. "Kiera and I…well, we work, God only knows how but we do. As long as she can put up with me then we'll be good. It's just… everything else."

"Yeah, " Elena replied, nodding her understanding.

"Seriously, " he said. "Who thought that it would be a good idea to put me in charge of so many people?"

"The same people who thought I'd make a good Councilor I e

Kiera's face as they both took their places. She knew Kiera was worried about tripping in heels. As they took their places Elena thought they looked amazing. They both fairly glowed with happiness and Kiera's gown looked as though it should be featured on the front of a glossy magazine. They both looked almost too beautiful to be real.

"We are gathered here today, not just to unite these two in marriage, but to unite their Houses, " Evan began. He spoke of the power of alliance and Elena felt impressed by the gravity he imparted on the ceremony. Just as Kiera and Mateo were transformed, Evan put away his grandfatherly guise and radiated authority. As he turned to Elena so that she could play her part, she only hoped she could match them.

"I acknowledge that Mateo Alexandro Andreseti is my kin by blood and is formerly of my House, " she began in response to Evan's summons. "I understand the alliance this marriage will bring and will welcome the House of Terra as blood of my blood."

Evan nodded. "Then proceed, " he told her stepping to the side. Elena took her place in front of the couple and walked through the steps of the binding of the alliance. Kiera spoke of her willingness to bring the House of Terra into the Guild and her acceptance that the House of Terra and the House of Andreseti would constitute one House within the Guild. She spoke the formal words of allegiance not only for herself, but for all those who would be called the House of Terra.

Elena turned to her cousin and walked through his acceptance of the House of Terra and his willingness to treat them as his own House with no discrimination or preferential treatment given to any in his House that joined him through any other channel, treating his entire House with equal regard. Elena finished, acknowledged her satisfaction with the alliance and stepped back, allowing Evan to complete the marriage ceremony.

Elena smiled as she realized Mateo's hands were shaking slightly as he slid the ring on Kiera's finger. When the couple turned to face the crowd and Evan pronounced them husband and wife, Elena grinned as the crowd cheered and applauded. She stood with Evan and watched as the couple descended the main stairs. Someone released birds into the air and their multicolored wings dazzled the eye as their caws of freedom blended with the swelling music.

"Well, " Evan said as they watched the couple move away, retreating to take a short breather before the reception. "That went better than I expected." Elena smiled and realized Evan's eyes were shiny with emotion. They watched the crowd move towards the feast Consuelo created. The chef was given more time to plan this feast than for the memorial and it showed. Tables fairly groaned under the weight of the food and Elena spotted a small band setting up beside what looked like a dance floor.

"I believe several of the junior Librarians have taken bets on how long the festivities will last, " Evan said as he and Elena began to descend into the milling crowds.

"Really?" she asked, pleased that the festivities were at least happy ones.

"Really, I believe the betting started once they realized Consuelo planned the food in waves."

"You mean this isn't all of it?" she asked, astounded.

"Oh no, " Evan assured her. "I believe she considers this a first course. There is an additional meal later in the day around dinner time and then random platters to circulate well into the night."

Elena thought about it for a moment. "Good, " she decided. "Happy events should be well celebrated."

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