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   Chapter 24 Skyside

Skyside: Book Five of The Channel Riders By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 20445

Updated: 2018-02-26 16:31

Chapter 24

Elena and Mateo headed back through town. The people they passed mostly looked relieved and Elena wondered if everyone expected them to go into the chamber and never again see the light of day. Elena saw Rene enter the Council chamber behind them and shook her head.

"Planning already, " she said to her cousin. Akashi left them, after thanking Elena for taking his House in. She knew that once the paperwork was filed there would be many further discussions. Most of those she was fairly certain that Hashi, Riko's heir apparent, would not like. McLaughlin headed back to the patrol ships with a lighter step as though he was relieved that the session was over. Elena wondered if thoughts of war now filled his head since the justification of evacuation had been accepted. She decided she didn't want to know. As they approached Mateo's workshop, the crowd thinned, as though realizing there was nothing much to see.

Elena left Mateo in his workshop and headed back to her own quarters, wondering how Benjamin would take the news that he was soon officially to be an aide to a Councilor. She entered her quarters and found not only Benjamin, but Thompson and Jennifer as well. Her apprentice's face looked drawn with worry and Benjamin was pacing the length of the living room floor. Thompson was sitting very still and staring at nothing.

"Did you think they had a firing squad in the back?" Elena asked with a half-smile on her face. All three jumped at the sound of her voice. Benjamin paused his pacing and Jennifer leapt to her feet.

"What happened… is it okay…you're all right, right…I mean what did they do?" Jennifer asked all of her pent up questions congealing into one half-formed verbal blob.

"There is a rumor going around among the new comers that you are to be blamed for the DF's destruction, " Benjamin clarified looking relieved to see her.

"What?" Elena responded, slightly shocked. "I was afraid they would think I claimed too much power and chastise me by claiming part of Haven, but they weren't blaming me, that was the Matrovean."

"Actually I think its Therese, " Thompson said, leaning back in his seat, looking much more relaxed than he had a moment ago. "It was a rumor she seemed fond of repeating when I saw her in the coffee shop. I couldn't tell you if she originated it or not. Although the Matrovean can of course still be blamed for the actual destruction."

"The Council did not blame me for the destruction of the DF, " Elena clarified shaking her head.

"Well Therese wasn't making much headway convincing anyone who was here through the evacuation. They were firmly on your side and looked fairly incensed by the accusation. She certainly didn't make any new friends. Her cronies seemed to have the belief that she was privy to some sort of privileged information though."

"Well they will be disappointed, " Elena told them. She poured herself a large glass of water from the pitcher they kept on hand and settled herself on the couch.

"So what did they do?" Jennifer asked.

"They gave me a Council seat, " she told her apprentice. "I suppose it was the worst punishment they could think of. At the moment they are discussing timing with Rene and figuring out when we can have the induction ceremony."

"Oh, " Jennifer said looking startled by the pronouncement. "Do you mind if I go tell Devon, he was worried."

"Not at all, " Elena said. "I'm sure the notice will be posted once they finished talking with Rene.

Jennifer left and Benjamin sank down on to the other end of the couch. "I've never been to an induction ceremony for a Councilor before."

"Most people haven't, " Elena said. "They tend to be small and private with the newly named councilor holding a semi-public meet and greet the next day. I suppose we will still have to arrange that. Grandfather took me to Peter's induction ceremony. I think there were a total of twelve people there."

"I doubt they are going to get away with that this time, " Benjamin said. "After all, remember Mateo's wedding? It was a town wide affair."

"Mateo is looking forward to the memorabilia, " she told them with a tired smile.

"Do you think they will have figurines this time?" Benjamin asked. "I could use one for my collection."

"You collect figurines?" Elena asked.

"No, but I have been meaning to start."

"Great, " Elena told him with a short laugh. She took a sip of water and noticed several large bags sitting off to the side of the room. She frowned. "What's that?" she asked.

"Mail, " Benjamin replied. "Apparently Peter picked it up before he left."

"That's right, " Elena said, remembering her conversation with Peter. "He told me Victor passed it on." She sighed. "I suppose I should start sorting it."

"No you shouldn't, " Benjamin said. "You should rest." Elena started to protest but her words were waved away. "Do you think that we can't see the light on under your closed door on the nights that you say you are turning in early?" He asked.

"That's just…" She started.

"That's just you doing what needs to be done, " Benjamin said. "I know. Now what needs to be done is that you need to sit and rest while watching me sort the mail for you." He smiled at her surprise. "After all, what is an aide for?" He smiled and walked over to one of the bags. Elena smiled and then took a deep drink of water. Not wanting to need to use the restroom during the Council session and not knowing how long it would take, Elena had not had anything to drink all day. She felt parched and was pleased that Benjamin took over mail duty.

"I can help deliver if you'd like, " Thompson offered Benjamin as the big man sat on the floor next to the coffee table and began pulling large handfuls of paper from the first satchel.

"Appreciate it, " Benjamin said. "Although a lot of it is for Elena."

"Me?" Elena asked. "Who is writing to me?"

"Well it looks as though Victor wrote out weekly reports for one, " Benjamin said as Elena's stack grew. "And then there are letters from Lisa, a couple of reports from the warehouse

was between her and Therese. She used to long for him to understand. Now she wished he didn't and could wipe that look from his face.

"And Elizabeth, " Thompson said. Elena wanted to kick him.

Alexandro smiled a little sadly. "Elizabeth will relent. She is unable to be eligible for the North American seat. She will therefore seek to gain Elena as an ally for my seat against Mateo when I am no longer among the living. Although there is little hope in that, it is a possibility. At the very least she will not want Elena as an enemy. "

"And Therese?" Thompson prompted.

"Therese I believe might be beyond reason where either Elena or Mateo are concerned." He lifted an eyebrow. "Which is, I believe why you have ordered most of your men to watch her and only one to watch Elizabeth."

Thompson tilted his head in acknowledgement. "What?" Elena sputtered.

"He is doing his job, Elena, " her grandfather said.

"His job, " she began. "He isn't my bodyguard. He is military. His job is to gather information."

"In part, " Alexandro conceded. "However, his job, loosely detailed in its broadest sense, is to protect the lives of American citizens, of which you are one." Alexandro told her. "I believe there is an oath involved at some point no matter what the specifics of their actual posting."

"There is, " Thompson said. Elena shook her head, unable to reply.

"In addition, whether you like it or not Elena, you have become a very important figure. You are the one who evacuated the DF. You are the one who kept the Guild safe. You are the one who did not abandon them. You are the one that those who survived skyside last season trust. This trust, they no longer feel for the Council at large. They feel, rightly so, that we abandoned them. Regardless of long held alliances and connections, trade agreements of nationality, you are their Councilor, invested or not. Things would become exceedingly difficult for the Guild if anything were to happen to you. Now is a time when we can little afford infighting."

He stared at Elena until she nodded her understanding. She doubted that the Guild would fall apart if something happened to her, but she knew it was a time when the Guild needed to be strong.

"Excellent, " Alexandro said turning back to the men. "Now I believe I have made it clear why my granddaughter requires extra protection. I trust you to provide it." Alexandro stood up and looked from Benjamin to Thompson. "I do not deal well with disappointment." He turned to Elena. "You will let them do their jobs." He smiled.

"Ms. Dupry will be here with her apprentice for your final fitting tomorrow morning. I will likewise speak to Mateo. Until the ceremony, if he requires your assistance, he will come here to get it rather than sending for you." His pronouncements made, Alexandro turned and headed for the door, Marcus neatly falling into step behind him.

"Well, " Elena said when she was sure he was gone. "That was…" Elena realized she lacked the words to finish the sentence and sort of let it drift off.

"Yeah, " Benjamin said. "It sort of was."

"At least we all know our places, " Thompson replied running a hand through his hair.

"Yeah, " Benjamin agreed. "In a grave next to Elena if we let anything happen to her." He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Elena I hate to say this but your grandfather is possibly the scariest old man I have ever met. I mean Evan has flashes of scary, but Alexandro Calabrese. Man."

"So I've heard, " Elena said. Benjamin chuckled to himself and shook his head.

"Something funny?" Elena asked, still a little taken aback by the way in which her grandfather ordered the two men to protect her in order to prevent her death and possible riots.

"Just that I'm glad I'm not Thompson, " he said.

"Why is that?" Thompson asked.

"Because sooner or later that terrifying old man is going to find out that you got his favorite granddaughter to agree to go on a date with you." Benjamin chuckled to himself again. "I'm sure he'll be a lot scarier then."

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