A new beginning...

Teanna Yhoul looked at the crono on her desk and then back to the personal files on her computer screen. She scrolled through the restricted files one crew member at a time.

"Navigator Kirth Gersen." she said to the empty office. Human, Akakhad. Alliance Scout Service, courier division. If she had eyebrows they would have raised when she got to the special assignments section of the file.

"I'll have to keep an eye on this one." she thought to herself. She flicked the screen to the next file.

The next file appeared. "Engineer Nigel Strawn." Human, Remnant. Two years in Alliance Scout Service anti-virus division. Simple thought "a survivor." A flick brought up the next personal file.

"Engineer Amalric Gethens." Human, Akakhad. Transferred from Alliance Naval Intelligence. Injured in combat at Esekheali, transferred to a desk job for a while.

"Requested assignment to the Trailblazer." Teanna rubbed her frontal lobe. 
"Request additional information, Intelligence Archives." she thought as she looked at her office Bio-computer node. The Biod tweeted in response as Teanna opened another terminal screen with her lower left arm and tapped at the inputs. A flick of her upper right arm brought up the next file.

"Doctor Claire Balfour." Teanna spoke aloud this time. "Why does that name ring a bell?"

Teanna brought up the rest of the file. Human, Akakhad. Transferred from Alliance Navy, Petty Officer First Class. Served on the FAS Royal Guard. 
"Ah, I know you Claire." Teanna thought. She flicked the file to her personal Biod.

"Marine Captain Tok*nakilie - Heather". Teanna flicked across to another file. "My first Ithklur on board."

Teanna used both upper arms to bring the files side by side. She compared them for several moments before filing them again. 
"Muscle we might need."

Teanna opened the next file. "Master Sergeant Dominic Te Kooti Salazar-Wei - TK for short." Human, Solomani. Awarded Order of the Alliance at the Battle of Port Khtoleas, Kteieaelal. 

"This human likes to fight." Teanna thought to herself as she read TK's service record.

Just then Teanna's personal Biod buzzed in her head. Distracted she cast her mind toward the flashing message icon. She opened the message and sighed. "Duty calls." she said, swiping the screens to clear them as she stood. She stood still for a moment, clearing her mind to encrypt her computer terminal and Biod. That done she left her office.

The new crew was assembling in the Trailblazer's barracks. Teanna cast a sideways glance out her office window as she approached the door. The rocks of the Syoyorlea asteroid belt tumbled past in their eternal dance.
"Yes indeed," Teanna thought, "time to go to work."

The normal population of the scout base located in the Syoyorlean asteroid belt had begun to swell with the influx of personnel. The secret base had a regular staff of just 90 scouts, mostly using jump 1 scout ships to keep tabs on the trailing, rimward section of the Kteieaelal main. But recent arrivals had almost double that head count, the five gleaming new jump 2 scout ships sitting in the enclosed hangars the reason. Modeled after the patrol cruisers of long ago Third Imperium, these ships had a distinct Islaian style to them. Five ships, five new crews coming together.

Most of the crews had only arrived at the base in the last day or two and were busy checking out the new ships. The FAS Trailblazer sat proudly at the head of the five ships, the first of her class. She would also be the first to leave on her mission, a mission brief her crew would soon be called to.

Team Leader Brison Thrax chewed on his cigar as he eyeballed Kirth. His extreme crew-cut, scarred face and broad frame would have fitted him for the Alliance Legionaries any day of the week, but the red stripes on his black uniform placed him in the scout service.

Thrax stared at the data pad in front of him and then back at Kirth. The report on the data pad was heavily redacted. Thax bit down on the cigar harder, the bitter juice of the leaves starting to dribble down the back of his throat.
"Why you here boy, why you on my station?"
Kirth had only been on Ktaihei for barely a week and yet to see his family. His mission had been long, hard and dangerous and yet those in charge had slapped a none disclosure command on him and dumped him on standard duty. He simmered yet held his tongue. Kirth had been from one end of the Kteieaelal main to the other, had visited almost every world including the dead ones and yet he was here now. Back home and on a desk job.
Before Kirth could say anything Thrax snapped to a standing attention.
"Senior Leader Yahrina!"
"Easy Thrax, before you break something." came the words which almost floated across Kirth's mind. He know who to expect even before he turned.
"Senior Leader." Kirth acknowledged.
Yahrina nodded and began to speak. Except Kirth knew that Islaian don't speak, can't speak as they have no vocal cords. Their mouths were only for the ingestion of food and they moved their mouths so as to not remind the other races of the Alliance that they spoke directly to your mind. Kirth also knew they were telepaths and masters of linguistics and that it only seemed that they were speaking.
Kirth gazed at the Islaian as the words flowed into his mind. The Islaians were tall with amber like skin and four arms on their upper body. Their almond shaped heads were only broken by their small mouths and large clear eyes, eyes that at times felt like they could see right through you. Each of their arms and legs ended with four stubby digits.
"Mister Gersen has been re-assigned."
"Oh really," replied Thrax "just when we were becoming best buds."
Kirth almost felt the mental frown from Yahrina. "Indeed Team Leader, that will be all."

Yahrina escorted Kirth out of the Team Leader's office and down the hall.

"Mister Gersen" the words in his mind again, "you have two weeks R&R before you have to report back here. You've been reassigned to Syoyorlea."
Kirth stopped dead in his track. "Are you sure?"
Kirth had heard whispers of a secret base at Syoyorlea and the asteroid belt did make the perfect jump off point back into Reavers' Deep but the Alliance had no ship's they were willing to risk across the voids. The navy guarded the few remaining Legion ship's capable of jump 2 or more like they were gold plated. Several had been send out and never heard from again in the early days of the Alliance.
"Yes I'm sure." came the reply.

Nigel Strawn sat staring at the little box on the desk in front him, almost willing for something, anything, to happen.

Then it did. The little red lever on the side of the box sprang to attention. The whoot escaped from Nigel and his companion Brac before they could stop themselves.
"Your canary really works!" exclaimed Brac. Brac was a remnant just like Nigel, both found frozen on the drifting ISS Otterway and they were close friends.
"Course it does." replied Nigel with satisfaction.
"Think the bosses will let you use it in the field?"
"Maybe, they would probably space us if they found out we had a live virus on base."
Nigel glanced out the window at the Oloih asteroid belt, half expecting someone to be staring back at him. A little like the nightmares he had, they all had, after waking up on that ghost ship.
"This has got to be a better solution than the PKX-43." Nigel said, looking at Brac.
"Yeah, I agree. What that stuff does to flesh is just plan wrong. Don't care if the people are willingly helping the virus ships, that ain't no way to go out."
Nigel nodded in agreement. "Official solution or not, trapping and destroying the virus has got to be more humane."
Humane. Nigel thought there was nothing humane about his situation. A sector and 70 years away from his home. His comlink beeped.
"Strawn here."
"Strawn, get your butt to command," it was Commander Samgong at the other end, "seems you've been reassigned.
Reassigned? Remanents had never been reassigned out of Cyber-command. The running joke around base was Remanents were too old for active duty. The men in Commander Samgong's team suspected they weren't fully trusted yet.
"Are you sure?" Nigel replied.
"You have one hour to make the shuttle. Sure I'm sure." Nigel could almost see the smile on his Commander's face.

Amalric Gethens walked the metallic halls at a brisk pace filled with purpose. The heels of his boots clicked with each stride, echoing down the near empty corridors. Nothing unusual for 2am ship time, but Amalric's location on-board at the time was.

The FAM High Guardian, once called the FAS Broken Sword and before that the Legion Victory, was a 50 kton cruiser in high orbit above Toaakhitleil. Once the pride of the Ftahalr Alliance Starship fleet, one of the dozen or so remanent warships found in the Knights' Legion cache, the ship had been relegated to Monitor status and renamed when the jump drives failed. Still she had 75% of her armament operational thanks in part to the dedication of engineers like Amalric. Amalric had once even found a plate attached to the back of a drive panel that read "IN Indivisible". No idea what that meant as it wasn't in any of the technical manuals retrieved with the cache.

Amalric arrived at the duty officers station. He saluted the commander on duty, although technically being a member of Naval Intelligence meant he outranked the officer.

"Ah, the viper." Commander Siggins half saluted, half waved back.
Amalric know the insult derived from an old human saying, 'snake in the grass', but choose to ignore it. He had once been a part of this crew but his transfer to NI a year ago had met with much hostility from his old comrades.
"Commander," Amalric began and hesitated briefly until the commander looked up from his coffee, "I found a still in the back of a condensing tower on engineering level 18B."
He placed the data pad in front of the commander and flicked through the photos.
"That is where your Joppa fruit have been going, to seed the still. The full details and those involved are included in the brief and full report on this data pad. A copy has been registered with High Command."
"Well I'll be," began Siggins as he zoomed in on the still, "that's clever hooking it up via the heat exchangers. No wonder the internal sensors never picked it up."
Amalric's personal communicator hummed. He glanced at it briefly then saluted the commander, who waved him off without taking his eyes off the screen.
Amalric pivoted on his heels and headed for the hangar bay.
"Crossover duty to the scouts. Posting Syoyorlea System. Leave immediately. NI Command." the message had read. He double checked the encryption stamps to confirm the message.
"I wonder what's at Syoyorlea?" he thought to himself. "Better get a few books, it's a ten week journey to Syoyorlea."

Claire Balfour stared out the window at the distant grey mountains of the Bunya Ranges, the sunlight reflecting off the peaks.

"Beautiful." she thought to herself, before she was remindered that it was vacuum just beyond the glass.
Claire enjoyed working for the navy, had enjoyed the strike missions and the medic roles she had had over the last several years. Working with the navy she had gotten the chance to operate on all the member-species of the Alliance. The human races, Solomani, Solomani-Vilani mixes, and the brooding Akakhad, her kinfolk, had pretty much been her bread and butter in the early days. However once in combat she had learned Aslan and Ithklur physiology. She especially enjoyed working on the Ithklur.

However this last year had been especially significant to her. Her posting to Hlaseuikh had brought her into close contact with the Islaian, and when an outbreak of the Dillithian Fever caused all the Islaian doctors to be isolated she had been left to treat the rest of the unaffected population. What had meant to be a two week sojourn to her new posting on the latest FAS naval escort ship the Hlaseuikh shipyards had produced, turned into a year long posting after the Islaian Commodore had taken a shine to her. Claire could count on one hand the number of other humans that had been on base that long.

"Claire." Claire recognized the mental touch of the Commodore immediately. She placed down the medical data pad she had been absently holding and turned.

"Teallia, how are you today?" Claire was one of the few humans in the navy allowed to call the Commodore by her personal name.
Commodore Mharain Teallia dipped her long, thin head. "I am well today."
Claire smiled.
"Claire you have been transferred." the statement was direct, matter of fact, and caught Claire off-guard.
"W..What.." Claire stammered, "Are you sure? Why?" A hundred things raced through Claire's mind.
"None of those things are true." the Commodore responded.
Claire knew the Commodore was reading her mind, knew she only did it because she had already given her permission to do so. The Islaians never entered another's mind without permission.
"Yes I'm sure. You leave tomorrow."

Sterlkar shook his head. "New recruits, fresh pups."

He looked over the duty roster at the new names assigned to his battery. Several were from his home world of Toaakhitleil, one of the core worlds of the Alliance. He hadn't even been born at that time, but loved the stories his father told him of how Awheaoir of Clan Awtao united the planet before joining the Alliance.
He thought of those early days when he joined the Toaakhitleil space forces, how tough the training was to get up to speed on the higher tech the Alliance used. But he made it, he was a member of Platform 15 of the Orbital Defense Force around Toaakhitleil, tasked with system protection.
And today was the start of a new round of training, time to replace those that had shown enough potential to be recruited into the Alliance navy. Sterlkar looked out the starboard view screens, saw the glint of sunlight as something large breached the horizon of his home world.
Sterlkar glanced at his crono.
"Right on time." Sterlkar commented as the FAM High Guardian began it's graceful arc across the high orbital plane. He looked back at the recruits standing in front of him. Mostly Aslan, a few Akakhad and surprisingly a Solomani human.
"Recruit Harrison, what brings you to this command?"
Harrison snapped harder to attention, if that were humanly possible.
"Sir. Got tired of farming Ekhiwua'ea. Want to serve the Alliance!"
"Alright recruit," replied Sterlkar having to hiding a smile, "just don't mess up and you will get your chance."
"Yes Sir, thankyou Sir." snapped back the response.
Sterlkar shook his head again, not the first and probably not the last time today.

"Trainer Sterlkar."

Sterlkar recognised the voice of his mentor, Okhitea.
"Commander, you look fierce today."
Okhitea bared his teeth in response to the complement.
"Sterlkar, you honor an old warrior." Okhitea put his arm around Sterlkar and turned him away from the recruits as he spoke.
"Sterlkar, you bravery and skill has finally been recognized. Command is sending you on a mission."
"Where?" enquired Sterlkar.
"All I know is you're being transferred to the exploration section of the Alliance scouts. My guess would be somewhere outside the Alliance."

What in the name of all his ancestors could be happening at Syoyorlea that needed the immediate transfer of an intelligence officer with an engineering background, wondered Amalric. Not that he was in any way surprised. The mysteries of the Bureau of Naval Personnel made quantum theory seem rational and simply by comparison. He had in fact been called to active duty because of the fleet's need for gunners and then promptly sent to engineering school instead. It made about as much sense.

Still, he'd done about all he could do onboard High Guardian, and catching Joppa fruit thieves was hardly the glamorous career he'd envisioned when he signed up to transfer to the Intel branch. Whatever was happening at Syoyorlea, it at least promised to be different than this -and- came with ten weeks of enforced idleness wherein he could at last catch up on his reading.
Come to think of it, it wasn't BuPers that had sent his orders. It was NavInt. The Puzzle Palace. Strange that he should receive his transfer orders directly from them. Perhaps something interesting -was- happening out at Syoyorlea, after all? One could at least hope.

Tok*nakilie "Heather" felt and heard the familiar crunch as he slammed his friend 'ireehzixe "Clover" into the practice mat.

Heather liked the military base on Ftao, the grays and black of the base contrasted nicely with the greens and blues of the world. Yes, much nicer than the cold gray vacuum of his homeworld of Hlaseuikh. Although Hlaseuikh was his homeworld he knew it wasn't the homeworld of his people. Before dying in his hydroponic gardens on Hlaseuikh Heather's elder-folk Zzegaaxuesu would tell him stories of his coming to this region of space. How, at the invitation of the mighty warriors called the Knights' Legion, Zzegaaxuesu and many companies of his kinsfolk traveled from their worlds in a far off region called the Hive Federation with their benefactors, a race called Hivers, to train with the Knights and fight off incursions into their space from other human invaders.
But then came the virus, and everything changed. While fighting for a world called Drinsaar Zzegaaxuesu and his company was cut off when their transport ship was rammed and destroyed by a virus infected Solomani warship. The company valiantly fought on for several more days before a Knights' Legion transport landed and collected them.
The transport was to take them back to the main body of the Hiver contingent but unknown to the humans who operated the ship the nav computer was infected and they were no longer in control. The jump was uncontrolled and catastrophic, the ship crashing onto the surface of Hlaseuikh. The Ithklur are a strong race though, and the 83 survivors were rescued by the local Islaian population. Heather thought sadly of how none of the human crew or the hivers had survived the landing.
"So fragile." he thought.
Sudden Heather found himself flat on his back.
"Day-dreaming again?" inquired Clover as he stood over Heather.

"Attention!" yelled the duty commander.

The Ithklur in the training room snapped to attention. The duty commander walked up to Heather and Clover. Although a broad man, Heather stood nearly a head above the commander.
"Captain Heather," he began reading from the data pad in his hand, "gather your gear together, you're being put on active duty."
Heather and Clover smiled in unison.

Master Sergeant TK smiled inwardly. He always enjoyed the yearly naming ceremony, that event after graduation when the marine recruits became Legionnaires and received their callsigns. Every Legionnaire had a callsign, for becoming a Legionnaire meant you were giving up whatever went before and dedicating your life to your comrades and the Legionnaires. It was a warm, sunny day at the military base on Ftao.

"Private Benjamin Termanem, Gripper."
The Master Sergeant smiled outwardly this time. That was quite a story that one.
"Private Ryuarel Uihyelaikh, Half Back."
"Private Waita Iyiy, Flasher."
TK chuckled. Aslan males really should not be seen naked in public.
"Private Erael Taulreae, Ripsaw."
On went the role call until all fifty names and callsigns had been read out. From this day until death or old age claimed them, these Legionnaires would only respond to their callsigns, the old names no longer having any meaning to them.

As he was congratulating the new Legionnaires TK thought about his callsign. He told those outside the Legionnaires it was short for his middle name "Te Kooti", but in fact his callsign comes from the virus infected TK48 robot he destroyed while on duty protecting an engineering detachment on one of the boneyard worlds of the Alliance. Something he never wanted his parents to find out about. No need for them to worry about how really dangerous it was out there.

"Master Sergeant."
TK turned and snapped to attention in one swift, fluid motion at the voice of his commanding officer.
"At ease TK." Brigadier General Terrance Gisborne, Blackbone, saluted back.
"Blackbone, what's up?" enquired TK.
"TK, pack your kit. I'm sending you on mission."