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   Chapter 26 Skyside

Skyside: Book Five of The Channel Riders By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 11881

Updated: 2018-02-26 16:32


Chapter 26

She managed to make it through the enforced day of sloth and woke to her induction day nervous. Instead of dragons she dreamed of snipers and of walking from her quarters to the center of town covered in the red dots movies and television aimed at people to let the audience know they had become targets.

"Even if people brought weapons, I doubt they brought the kind with laser sites, " she muttered to herself. Too nervous to eat, she contented herself with coffee before taking a shower to thoroughly scrub down before awaiting Candace.

"You'll be fine, " Benjamin told her.

She nodded. "I know. I just had dreams of snipers last night."

"I wouldn't worry about snipers, " Thompson told her with a smile.

"No?" she asked.

"Nope. The few buildings tall enough to serve as platforms for long distance siting don't have a clear view of either the path to the platform or the platform itself. None of the buildings you'll pass have doors or windows facing the pathway and no roof flat enough for anyone to stand on, let alone be concealed while doing so. And we have at least one trusted person stationed next to anyone known to be untrustworthy. Including those your Grandfather thought might in general object to a North American seat being added."

"Oh, " Elena said, somewhat non-plussed by his response. It was a little more thorough than she expected. Thompson smiled and poured himself a cup of coffee.

"Feel better?" he asked.

"Not really, " she told him. He laughed as Candice arrived to help Elena begin to get ready. She left Thompson and Benjamin, knowing they simply had to wear suits and be somewhere in the general vicinity of the platform during the ceremony. She would have to walk down alone. Elena took a deep breath and slid into the heavy gown. As the material settled around her and the buttons were fastened, she slipped on her shoes. As Candice began her magic with hair and make-up, Elena tried to calm her racing heart.

"This is just one more thing that needs to be done, " she told herself as Candace finished and slipped away. "Just do what needs to be done." She slowly left her bedroom and entered the living room. Her steps were slow and measured, the weight of the dress not allowing for anything else. As she stepped into view Thompson let out a long low whistle of appreciation.

"Wow, that looks better on you then it did on the stand, " he told her. Elena smiled.

"Thanks, " she said. Outside she heard the first horn sound. She swallowed hard and tried to smooth her fear from her face.

"We'll be watching the whole time, " Thompson told her as she moved towards the door.

"I know, " she said. "And that actually makes me feel better." He gave her a quick grin before he slipped out of the door. Benjamin was already gone. She heard the second horn and stepped out into the doorway. This time there would be no honor guard to escort her. This time she would be completely alone. The third horn sounded and Elena began to descend the steps, beginning her trip to the platform. She kept a polite smile on her face and hoped that she did not look as though she were concentrating on her steps, praying she wouldn't tumble down the steps.

She began counting her footsteps in her head to keep her nerves down as she began to pass clusters of people lined up to watch her procession. Fifty-two steps and she smiled warmly at a five year old girl who was watching her with awe filled eyes. One hundred and six steps and she saw her Aunt Catherine, dabbing her d

they?" she asked, feeling better about leaving the party in full swing.

"Yup, " he told her. "They seemed somewhat… surprised by the gathering."

Elena smiled tiredly. "Well it was quite unusual." She reminded him. "The ceremony is always the same, a simple agreement to oaths and an acceptance of the position. But usually it is done with a hand full of people. After it's over everyone shakes the new councilor's hand and says congrats. Then the new Councilor and their families go out to dinner to celebrate. The next day, people drop by to meet the new councilor."

"So normally no cheering, dancing, and music?"

"Nope, not at all, " she confirmed. They reached the bottom of the stairs and Elena sighed looking up. "I swear they added more steps since this morning, " she told him.

"Come on, " he told her offering his arm. "Only a little further and once inside you can get out of that dress and into something comfortable."

"This dress is beginning to make me anti-clothing, " she told him. "I'm beginning to think the stones were added as a bit of a torture device. Why does Evalene hate me all of a sudden?"

"I'm sure she doesn't hate you, " Thompson told her. "I think it was more of a seemed like a good idea at the time sort of thing rather than premeditated maliciousness." He shrugged. "But if you want to run around buck naked for a while, I won't complain."

"Thanks, " she told him dryly.

"Anytime." They reached the top of the stairs and entered their quarters. To Elena surprise, Benjamin was already there. Laid out on the table were various dishes and platters that could only have come from Conseulo. Elena blushed as her stomach rumbled from the scents her nose was drawing in.

"We figured you'd never make it to the table, " Benjamin said. "Which means you haven't eaten all day.

"I am running on coffee and a couple of cups of punch, " Elena confessed. Thompson gave a small friendly push towards her bedroom.

"The food can wait for the dress to be gone, " he told her. Elena nodded and made her way to the bedroom. She unfastened the dress and let it fall with a loud whumph to the floor. Spin meowed from her spot on Elena's bed. Elena scratched her ears and reached for an old pair of jeans and a faded t-shirt.

"Fashion is definitely over-rated, " she told the cat. Spin purred in agreement.

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