Read Elite (Citizen Saga, Book 1) Online
Authors: Nicola Claire
The Citizen Saga, Book One
By Nicola Claire
Copyright © 2014, Nicola Claire
All Rights Reserved
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places and incidents are products of the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organisations is entirely coincidental.
All rights are reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author.
Cover Art by Nicola Claire
Image credit: 123RF Stock Photo
Image # #24331835 & #6543817
Chapter 4: This Woman,
, Might Just Be The Death Of Me
Chapter 5: I Was Betting It Wasn't Pretty
Chapter 7: And Bottomless Blue Eyes
Chapter 8: We'd Make A Fine Pair Of Elites
Chapter 10: Feeling Bizarrely Honoured
Chapter 11: Everyone Held Their Breaths
Chapter 12: Of All The Rookie Mistakes To Make, This Was Mine?
Chapter 14: Let's Get you Changed
Chapter 15: It Didn't Mean Anything
Chapter 16: Selena Carstairs Was Going To Be Mine
Chapter 18: Get Me Out Of Here
Chapter 20: It Was Probably A Little Scary
Chapter 21: Safest Place There Is
Chapter 22: Where The Hell Is She?
Chapter 23: Yeah, I Was Pretty Much Officially In Deep, Deep Shit
Chapter 25: And I Was Going To Very Much Regret It
Chapter 27: And I Had Only Myself To Blame
Chapter 29: It Was A Toss Up On Who Would Kill Me First
Chapter 30: Letting Me Get Lost In Him
Chapter 31: Oh, This Should Be Interesting
Chapter 33: Let's Have A Word With The Elite
Chapter 36: Leaving Me With A Giant Hole Inside My Chest
Chapter 38: What Is Your Answer
Chapter 39: For A Second I Wondered If Anything Had Happened
Chapter 40: And I'd Never Felt So Lost Before
Chapter 41: Lena Carr, A Citizen Who Didn't Actually Exist
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For: My family.
And the memories we make that last forever.
Elite (Citizen Saga, #1)
Have you been a model Citizen today?
Selena Carstairs has been raised an Elite. She lives the life of privileged luxury, never wanting for anything. Respected. Admired. Honoured.
But life is not what it seems...
The island of Wánměi has a strict set of rules. Be a model Citizen and all will be rewarded. Disobey the law and the consequences are dire. For Selena, the urge to defy is in her blood. Out of boredom? Or something else? But she never knew just what penalty she'd have to pay for her latest stunt.
Trent Masters is a Citizen, born and bred. The leader of a small group of revolutionaries desperately trying to free their beloved city of Wánměi. He knows a world exists beyond the island's borders. He knows a life exists without the heavy handed manipulation and tight fisted control of those in charge.
What he didn't know was that an Elite would have more chance of challenging the Overseers who control Wánměi than a rebel ever could. And he certainly wasn't expecting her to capture his heart as stealthily as she moves under the darkness of a hot and humid night.
Citizen versus Elite. The battle has begun.
The wet smell of bitumen met my nose. A day's worth of sun baked tarseal, doused in torrential rain. I stood statue still, watching from my sheltered alcove for movement in the night. It was Tuesday, so curfew was hours ago, but even Citizens could disobey the rules.
Look at me.
Sucking in a deep breath, I slid along the glass wall of an office building, letting the warm rain hide my movements. Screening me from street-cams. Dodging other more nefarious checkpoints would take skill and a deep pocket. Luckily I possessed both.
Wántel's service entrance came into view down a small side alley, puddles of water reflected dazzlingly bright lights winking towards an unobservant heaven. No one would be looking out of their sky-rise apartment windows. Too focused on their vid-screens, heads down over their cellphones, fingers flying over keys as they conversed with the person sitting right next to them. A bomb could go off down here and they'd not see it.
Just as well, I was about to break an Overseer rule. Witnesses would have been messy.
My heart pounded inside my chest. Sweat beaded and ran in rivulets down between my shoulder blades. The flexible nylon-lycra suit I wore was already drenched. And I hadn't even stepped into the rain.
It had been a long time since I felt this alive.
was what I lived for now.
I crept down the service alley, keeping a wary eye out for the tell-tail flashing red lights. iPol would be on shutdown right now, but sPol were definitely on the streets.
I pulled my ancient PDA from a pocket in my vest and powered it on. Anything connected to the internet right now would be traceable, I was working off-grid, using old tech, as obsolete as it gets. Obsolete was good. Linked in, not so much.
The schematics for Wántel's head office came up on the low res LCD screen, I toggled between external view and internal to orientate myself, then pocketed the device and pulled out my decoder. One last quick look around the alleyway, and then I was up and across the slick road surface and prying open the security lock casing at the delivery bay doors.
Numbers began scrolling across the LED screen, the soft beep of a warning alarm sounding out on each consecutive attempt to crack the entry code. I had thirty seconds before it went ballistic. My heartbeat raced, faster than the ticking time bomb before me. An ache started up inside my throat, muscles contracting, adrenaline suffusing my system. Sweat dripping into my eyes.
The rain had dropped the temperature by at least a few degrees, but Wánměi City was not known for its temperate climate at the best of times, and we'd just hit the stormy season. Thunder boomed through the sky to back that thought up. I must have missed the lightning, which made me think I was dropping my guard.
I glanced around the alleyway, just as the decoder found the correct combination of ten digits to unlock the eScanner, a green light drawing my attention back to the laser portal. I leaned forward and held my breath, my eyelid threatening to flutter; a nerve jumping in my cheek making the need to blink sheer torture.
A soft green light flowed down my eyeball, the hum of the eScanner working setting a counterpoint to the still pouring rain.
Just as I was about to throw myself backwards, away from a negative reading and the fallout that would cause, a soft beep announced my security clearance. Well, not mine, but the fictional identity of the contact lenses I was wearing. Right now the clock had really begun ticking. Wántel's advanced security system would be trying to locate one Shen Chew in its databases, and coming up with a dead end.
I had twenty-three minutes to get in, get past the various internal security checks inside, get what I came for, and get out.
I pocketed the decoder and pulled on the handle to the door, relieved to hear the click of the lock disengaging. Even in this day I didn't completely trust tech. Some base primal instinct that centuries of human technological advancement couldn't eradicate.
The hallway was nondescript as far as looks went, plain white walls, white floors and ceiling. What did make the fine hairs on my arms stand on end, though, was the silence. Wánměi never slept, even if curfew curtailed a lot of the more unacceptable pastimes. It was easy enough to get a pass, as long as you didn't mind the Overseers knowing what you were up to. But in here the quiet was resolute. Complete. No pitter-pat of rain. No hum of copious air-con units vying for a little slice of relief from the ever present heat. No electronic billboards lighting up the night sky.
Utter silence. It was eerie. I hadn't been in a building this quiet for a long time. I didn't care to remember the last one.
I pulled a small laser pointer out of another pocket and crept along the walls of the hall. The cameras would have picked up my face upon entry; I couldn't have avoided that. While the system checked my identity with iRec, I had to hope my blocks held. Tonight I was no one, and while that was an anomaly that simply did not exist in Wánměi, it was enough to confuse their systems for at least this cycle. I'd have to curtail any further Identity Recognition dodging in the near future, but tonight's efforts would make up for it.
I stopped at the corner to the hallway and pulled a small mirror from my vest, using it to locate the security camera around the bend. Once spotted, I flashed the laser pointer directly at the lens, counted to ten in my head and then ran down the length of the hallway to the emergency stairs.
I would have preferred the lift, but eScanners were required to breach the upper floors. This way I got my exercise and only had to combat the penthouse offices' security. By the time I made the mad dash to the thirtieth level, sixteen minutes had past since I entered the building. I was soaking wet, thirsty and out of breath. I spent a precious minute leaned over, hands to knees, black spots swimming before my eyes. Then the decoder was out and I was attaching the leads to the keypad motherboard and running the programme for entry.
It took twenty-eight seconds. Almost too long. The door unlocked with what sounded like a loud click to my ears, and I let a silent breath out as I slipped through aiming the laser at the camera lens. After tonight, Wántel would be placing eScanners at every single door.
I'd committed the layout to memory, refreshing with that quick glance at my PDA downstairs, so it didn't take me long to find Arthur Chen's expansive office. The door closed quietly at my back as my soft soled shoes sunk into the opulent carpet. I inhaled the smell of real leather on the couches and wood polish on the teak desk. Oh, how the other half live. Or in this case, work. Arthur Chen, CEO of Wántel Incorporated. The most politically powerful private sector Elite there was. He held Wánměi by its balls and every so often squeezed.
My eyes adjusted to the dim safety lighting quickly, hours of practice made my pupils dilate faster than average. I walked swiftly across the office, ignoring the most obvious place to search, and opened the cabinets off to the side.
Bingo. Security screens, all displaying various locations around Wántel's head office, including the lower guard stand and the scrambling of the men who were responding to the breach they'd detected in Chen's office.
I had my contacts out and pocketed, with new replacements in situ, within seconds. Then I flicked the eScanner to the side of Chen's impressive wooden desk on, placing my chin on the holder and waiting for the green laser to do its thing. A hum, buzz and soft beep followed. Then the artificial high
voice of Shiloh met my ears.
"Good evening, Honourable Arthur Chen. How may I be of assistance?"
"Locate Wántel Sat-Loc folder," I demanded, not bothering with a voice distorter. Chen was arrogant, he relied solely on his retinas. Shame the last call-girl he bedded was part of my team.
"That request does not compute. Would you like to view the directory?" Shiloh, ever the helpful disembodied voice.
"Locate Chen secured files," I tried, glancing at the security screens and noting the guards had made it to level twenty.
My eyes darted down to the screen embedded in the desk's surface, to see if Shiloh was computing my command, when something caught my attention out of the corner of my eye, back on the security screens.
Black clad men, dressed similarly to me.
Well, hello boys. Welcome to the party. But you're a little too late.
"Password," Shiloh politely requested.
I closed my eyes, let out a soft breath of air, praying to gods I knew could never exist, and said, "Trifecta."
If Aiko pulled through with this one, I'd be offering the girl a raise.
"Access granted," Shiloh intoned, and I would have kissed the robotic programme if she'd had lips to receive it.
I checked the security screens once more. Level twenty-seven for the guards. This floor for the black clad men.
My heartbeat went into overdrive. Who the hell were they and what would they do when we met face to face? Because, even as I inserted my flash-drive into Chen's computer system and started the download of the folder marked "Sat-Loc" in his secured files, I knew I wasn't getting off this floor before those men made it to this office. As the bar on the screen progressed at an excruciatingly slow speed, I turned my attention to the windows behind Chen's desk.
A panoramic view of downtown Wánměi, the remodelled Quay Resort building dominating the skyline, lights beaming up into the cloudy night, announcing another Elite rooftop party.
Chen would be there, along with anyone who was anyone in Wánměi. Dressed to the nines, sipping exorbitantly priced champagne, eating rare and exquisite nibbles, and thinking they ruled the world. The Honourables and the Cardinals and the fucked in the head Overseers. My stomach roiled at the thought of what was on their tongues. The conversations they would be having. The dichotomy they insisted was desirable in a modern day society. Wánměi above all others. Wánměi leads the way.
A soft beep announced the download was complete. My eyes skipped to the security screens and noted the camera for this floor was out. The black clad men were using lasers to fry the systems temporarily too. Great minds and all that.
I slipped the flash-drive out of the port and replaced it with another.
"Sorry, Shiloh," I murmured as I pocketed my catch and returned to the glass wall overlooking the city. It was still raining, I thought dispassionately. Then mentally shrugged and ran my ring - equipped with a glass cutting laser - over the window in a big circular shape.
My other hand latched onto the glass with a powerful suction device which had slipped down from my forearm with a flick of my wrist. I'm not overly large framed, nor muscular, but I relied on gravity and physics to pull the cut section of the glass towards me and roll it away to the side.
Ever present sweat dotted my brow and that was before the heat of the night rushed in the opening. I glanced back at Chen's computer screen and saw my virus had given Shiloh a little hiccup for the night. All would right itself by morning, but the black clad men who were competing for my prize this evening would be shit out of luck.
I smiled, just as the door to the office opened and my eyes met the muddy brown of a surprised man's.
, maybe mid thirties, tanned complexion, low lidded eyes, cute if I wasn't sure he held a gun in the hand I couldn't quite see from where I stood.
"You took too long," I offered and the gun hand rose slowly, as though he was having trouble deciding whether to threaten me or not.
"You don't work here," he surmised accurately.
My smile widened. "No," I agreed, lifting my hands up in the universal sign of "
What're you gonna do?
" releasing my flight-suit wings in the process. "But they do," I offered, just as the security guards could be seen storming the floor on the now re-functioning security screens off to the side in the opened cupboard.
While his eyes flicked to the screens I took two steps backwards, my feet finding the ledge of the window; the breeze quite substantial at this height, even if the rain had tamped down the earlier squalls. His gaze came back to me as he swore softly in
I offered a wink, as his gun hand rose again and a resolute look entered his features. But it really was too late. I was falling, backwards, head over feet, my descent stealing my breath as a rush of adrenaline fuelled my body and made me scream. The wings of my suit engaging sucked all air from my lungs and jerked my arms damn near out of their sockets, but the swoop of bird-flight made me giddy with excitement. The near miss with my unknown competition just adding to the thrill of the night.
I circled down in ever decreasing degrees, expecting a bullet in my back at any moment. Strangely, none came. My feet hit the rooftop of the nearby K
tech Industries building, skidding to a stop a mere few inches from the ledge of the shorter tower. My own soft swearword emitted then, this time in plain old
I gave myself a moment to catch my breath then stepped back ready to fly again in a different trajectory, when the soft
of feet landing behind me sounded out my rival's appearance.