Once all the delinquents were loaded, their restrains were removed and the shuttle lurches skyward, taking a path along the high-security clearance route. It snaked between the highest towers of the City core; lit by the rising sun, it was an intensely beautiful scene. Squout found his stomach knotting itself up as the pilot wove the shuttle around.

“Hey,” one of the other delinquents said to him. “What’re you in for?”

“People call me Squout. I disrupted the City Sepulcher services.”

The delinquent scrunched his face up. “That’s it?”


“Pfft. People call me Richat, and I shot a City patrolman with his own heater!”

Squout felt sweat pricking down his neck. “Why’d you do that?”

Richat shrugged his scrawny shoulders. “He was about to pull over the shuttle that I stole.”

“That’s nothing,” said another delinquent. “I cut the brake lines on a citytram!”

“I hijacked a shipment of nutri-gel!”

Squout drew back, suddenly hoping that the shuttle ride was a short one.