Chapter 1 - Part 1

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This isn't like my usual stuff..... Hope you like it.

Ishmael

Chapter 1 – Fifth West Corporation

"The first contact had been decades before, but everyone had ignored it. An object which had speeded up and changed course to come closer to planet Earth obviously wasn't just another passing asteroid. The public thought it was nothing more than a passing anomaly. Later it became obvious that something had found us............"

< Part 1 >

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Ishmael McGrath was on time for his interview, the high speed underground link from Cuffley New Town had been working well for once. He looked up at the Fifth West Corporation, London headquarters building and hoped they saw it in him, the creative spark all their job adverts kept mentioning.

'Fifth West, where we care more about you as a person, than just your qualifications.'

'Fifth West, looking for people with that certain something, that creative spark.'

'Fifth West, employers with a difference.'

It was the bit about not being too concerned with qualifications that appealed to Ishmael. After a falling out with a college lecturer, he'd left high education with no VoEd Certificate and a note on his reference for insulting behaviour to his lecturer.

"Please let them see it in me, whatever 'it' is." He muttered.

Ishmael had his invitation letter in his hand and his Citizenship A1 Card. He only realised the security guard was a DaHu when it was too late to join the queue for another door. As a child he'd thought of the damaged humans as bogeymen. Not only unkind, but also untrue, they were no nicer or more unpleasant than any other human. DaHus was the term he used for them pronounced as DarHues. Only when he spoke to Pandora of course, no one else knew about what he saw. There had been his mother, he'd told her about the bogeymen. That had ended up with him being sent to a child psychiatrist every week for a year. As far as his mum was concerned, he was now cured.

"Everything is fine Mr McGrath; you may enter the Fifth West building." Said the guard.

"Thank you."

All done by cameras, small drones and the best AI money could buy. Once through the door the building knew him. It knew where he was, what he was doing and most importantly, where he was supposed to be.

"Mr McGrath, please take elevator G to the twelfth floor."

The elevator was waiting for him and went up without him having to press any buttons. Fifth West Corporation were good at automation and artificial intelligence, as well as numerous other things, all based around Tech and AI. They were the sixth largest multinational on the planet, with ambitions to be number five by the end of the year.

"Mr McGrath, Lianne will be ready to see you in three minutes."

The twelfth floor was one large open plan office, with several coloured drones hovering about in a dozen or so places. One was projecting a name above it; refracted light in a rainbow of colours, one of Fifth West's many lucrative patents.

'Lianne.' In three foot high glowing letters, was about halfway across the open plan. Ishmael (Ish only to Pandora, even his mum called him Ishmael), was still a little unsure about working for Fifth West. They had a ten star rating as an employer on PopNet, but their recruiting techniques seemed so retro.

"This form, they still ask for gender." Pandora had said. "No one asks, hasn't for years. It's a minefield Ish, this is the seventies after all."

He agreed with her, twenty seventy five and they still sent out forms to be filled in by hand. They also asked for gender and sexual orientation. It was almost as if they were begging for someone to start a class action against them.

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