Chapter 1 - Taken

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Thrain snapped his fingers back, the hot sparks from the crackling wires stabbing at his skin. Off to his left a deadbolt slammed home, its solid thunk absorbed by the plastic crates dominating the small hold.

A crooked smile flickered across his face, his grey eyes dancing in the muted light. Who said the Artificial Transport Assistant was the only one who could control the shuttle’s internal systems?

His smile widening, his thoughts turned to Nano, his loyal but stubborn asset. She’d be one who would say such a thing. Moreover, she’d say it with undertones that he shouldn’t even be thinking such a thing. It was more than likely that she was on the other side of the door, rotating her float-fields in frustration and spitting virtual feathers from her emitters at his continued persistence in not preparing for the shuttle’s jump into the light-wave. 

A jump he had no intention of letting happen. 

She always underestimated his engineering ability. Had done since she’d been assigned to him, all those years ago when the system had allocated him an Executive career path. 

Once again he’d shown her what he was capable of.

Blowing cool air across the suddenly tingling fingers of one hand, he went to run his other through his errant dark curls. At some point in his life the gesture had become a sign of anxiety. The only one he let slip outside of his usual cock-sure attitude.

He jerked his hand away as his palm met the coarse fuzz of his scalp.

The smile slipped off his face at the stark reminder of why he was on board the shuttle.

They were sending him to his new home. After nearly six years of training and education on Probation he was being sent to his assigned Corporation early. That wasn’t unusual, it was downright unprecedented. He had never heard of any such activity for any of the Corporations in the Conglomerate. As such what would happen when he arrived at the ships’ destination was unclear. 

Which was exactly why he was so set on not arriving. He just needed to work out how to make that happen.

Sighing, Thrain let the last remnants of his satisfaction ebb away. He turned and allowed himself to fall backwards against the wall. Sliding down he ended up sat in a heap, his long limbs folding gracefully underneath him. Resting his arms and head on his knees he allowed himself a few moments of peace and quiet.

He’d need to get to work if he was going to find a way to hot-wire more than just a door, but a few minutes wouldn’t hurt.

Having successfully evaded Nano he finally admitted this was not a course of action he had expected to take. In fact he wasn’t really sure what course he should take, he just knew he couldn’t continue on the one that had been chosen for him. Being on track for an Executive role (whilst accepting a certain level of conformity was required for any career within the Conglomerate) he had hoped it would allow him to start to instigate a change in attitude from inside. In small ways it was what he had spent his whole life up until now doing: bending and twisting the protocols that governed pretty much everything. Inciting change without promoting it.

Here and now though, in the solace of the cargo hold, he finally admitted he may have pushed the boundaries of his tutor’s patience and convictions to breaking point.

Climbing that building was one thing. Falling from it and almost killing himself was quite another.

They had called their chosen punishment expulsion.

Despite his unorthodox sense of curiosity that often exposed him to antiquated terms, it was a phrase that had no context for him.

Part of his frustration was from the fact that they had surprised him with their decision. A Corporation surprising him! Staid, predictable old Ceema Corporation that was tasked with the administration of all the facilities on Probation, as well as their overall position in overseeing all Corporations in the Conglomerate, had blindsided him and done something that had never been done before. Despite his innate desire to do exactly that in every aspect of his life, Ceema doing it did not bode well. Everyone stayed at Probation until they were ready. Until they were fully versed in how to perform their assigned career. Until they had completed their induction into Conglomerate society. The methodical and careful assessment that started at birth was not to be wasted by jeopardising all that had been taught.

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