Taken fm the Prologue to Xylanthia

They say the older you get, the faster time flies. Of course, it just seems that way. To Mackenzie, it was as though life had just begun: a dream job, a move to the city, training sessions, new friends. Within a week, home and hearth was far away and insignificant. She didn't miss it at all.

There was good reason for the easy adaptation. Like the other initiates, Mackenzie was given an all-expenses paid, company-sponsored, neuro treatment that smoothed out the rough places in her memories. Mac was all for it, not that she had an inordinate number of traumatic experiences, but it was all the social rage among everybody who was anybody. The procedure was part of the program for all "traveling" company initiates. "Traveling" being an insider's reference to the class of Braithwaite employees who volunteered for deep space operations.

It was Mackenzie's life ambition to travel to other worlds. Trained in chemistry and biophysics and laboratory procedures, she proudly called herself a scientist; a junior scientist, to be sure, but a woman of science, rationale, and reason. Her parents, never once thinking their daughter would actually be hired by one of the mega-corps, encouraged her dreams and their support was revealed in Mackenzie's good marks in school and, other than one small incident, a sparkling conduct record.

To their utter consternation, Mac was selected by Braithwaite from the yearly field of recruits. Everyone wanted to work for one of the mega-corps and why not? A job with one of the big boys and one was set for life. Which was fine, but Mackenzie wanted to travel off-planet, which meant Faster-Than-Light travel over long distances. Neither of Mackenzie's parents were physicists but they knew if Mackenzie went "out there," by the time she returned they would likely be dead and gone. They would never see their daughter again.

Mackenzie loved her parents but, in all honesty, they were victims of modern society and had divorced, re-married, divorced again until the whole idea of family came to be a hassle. Early on, Mac knew she could leave it all behind.

Her neuro-scan revealed nuances about Mac's psychology and provided a map for enhancement. Space voyagers had to be calm, steady, and physically fit. Removing traumatic memory helped to attain the desired state of mind. Afterwards, Mackenzie felt wonderful, but she could no longer remember what her brother looked like. She had a relationship with a boy her first year in college, but she could not remember his face either or his name. The neurologists also took away the memory of a broken arm from falling out of a tree when Mackenzie was six. Things like that. The memories turned out to be just like her thoughts of home: she did not miss them at all.

She loved the city, but an accelerated training schedule called for her transfer to one of the great orbital platforms where she acclimated to zero gravity and attended classes. She was told she was selected specifically to support the survey mission to Sirius, to a moon in orbit around the great gas giant Xylanthia where her talents as a bio-surveyor were required. Turns out the place was crazy with wildlife.

The mission was already established and needed more personnel to help catalog all the new species. And so, it was to be Mackenzie and another young woman, Tyra Yasmin, who would be put into suspended animation and sent the eight light years to the binary system via a fully automated starship.

Tyra's background was similar to Mackenzie's. She was a new company employee and the rumor mill claimed she was brilliant and destined for big things. Tyra made Mackenzie uncomfortable on the shuttle ride into orbit by staring so long that Mackenzie finally asked, "Can I help you?"

Tyra shook her head, said no, and turned away.

Well, thought Mackenzie, women were like that. We size up one another according to strengths and weaknesses. Tyra was fit, larger than Mac, and had a brilliant resume. It was likely she was looking to become the dominant female on this trip. Mac sighed. There's one in every crowd.

Order here to continue reading.