Chapter One: Emmery

All personnel report to the crew mess,” a disembodied voice said through the speakers. “I repeat, all personnel report to the crew mess.”

The klaxons weren’t blaring, and there was no urgency to that voice, so I stretched my back lazily and only then swung my feet off the bed. I had no idea what was going on, but I wasn’t in a hurry to find out either. These days there was always something happening.

I stood in front of the small mirror I had hung right beside the bed, finger-combed my hair before deciding to tie it into a bun, and only then punched the panel that unlocked the door. I stepped out of my cramped quarters to see an ocean of people walking down the corridors and toward the crew mess, and I joined them without thinking twice about it.

 “Any idea what’s going on?” I asked Xyla as she appeared beside me, a spring to her step.

“I have an idea, yes,” she said with a wink.

She used to have such a closed off character, one that I had grown used to, but the past few weeks had changed her. And all because of Gallus, a bronze Shein that acted as one of the ship’s engineers. The two had grown…intimate. At least the sounds coming out of her quarters seemed to point at that.

She wasn’t the first one to change because of the Rogue Star crew and, unless I was mistaken, she wouldn’t be the last either. There was something about this race of burly aliens, the ones in command of the ship I now called home, that attracted the female members of the crew.

To be honest, I didn’t really know what to make of it. While some were nice, I had never really developed a close relationship with any of them. The way I saw it, they were nothing but my co-workers. Although, to be fair, co-workers weren’t supposed to drag your ass halfway across the galaxy and put you on a warpath with one of the most powerful forces in the universe.

“Does this have anything to do with the Gaed?” I asked Xyla, but she merely looked back at me over her shoulder to offer me a sly smile.

I would get nothing out of her.

Still, I was pretty sure that this prospective Gaed rebellion was the reason behind this ship-wide meeting.

Either that or the Dominion had found us and were en route, which I thought to be a pretty unlikely scenario. Even they wouldn’t be so stupid to threaten war with an independent system like the Ya-sin.

Probably.

To be honest, ever since the crew wide meeting in the park, my mind had been spinning.

Ever since Persephone Station, I’d stayed back. Didn’t want to risk getting involved.

But maybe that wasn’t an option anymore.

When Xyla and I finally got to the crew mess, we found the place completely packed. The entire crew of the Rogue Star had answered the call, it seemed.

At the center of the room were Kalyn, the woman that used to be our commander back at Persephone station, and Dejar, the Rogue Star’s captain. Chief Aavat stood close to them.

“Please, don’t tell me we’ll have to go on the run again,” I muttered under my breath.

Xyla said nothing, but she laid one hand on my shoulder and squeezed it softly. Then, to my surprise, she started walking toward Kalyn and Dejar.

“Thank you all for being here,” she started to say, addressing the whole room. “A few of you have your suspicious about the reason behind this meeting, so let me be straightforward with you: if you thought you’d be coming here because of the Gaed rebellion…then you’re absolutely right.”

Damn, I knew it.

Running one hand through my hair, I considered my next move.

As a programmer and hacker, I had the know-how when it came to network systems.

I’d been better than good. I’d been amazing.

The only reason I was caught and sent to Persephone Station was a client rolled on me. Gave my name up in return for a better deal.

I hadn’t had the opportunity to try, but I’d bet I could infiltrate the Dominion systems.

Create those false identities for the teams we’d send in these covert-ops everyone had been talking about, that Xyla and the others were laying out in more detail.

But I barely listened, wrestling with myself.

When we first came on board the Rogue Star, I’d kept my head down.

Didn’t volunteer any information.

Even if it might have helped, the Shein were aliens. Strangers.

Chief Aavat had put me on to scrubbing pipes.

Boring, but safe.

Now we were all in danger. And the crew weren’t strangers anymore.

These were my friends.

Maybe, maybe this was worth standing up for.

It’d be a lot of work, but what the hell.

“Alright,” I said, taking a step forward. “I’m in. Even if I regret it.”

All personnel report to the crew mess,” a disembodied voice said through the speakers. “I repeat, all personnel report to the crew mess.”

The klaxons weren’t blaring, and there was no urgency to that voice, so I stretched my back lazily and only then swung my feet off the bed. I had no idea what was going on, but I wasn’t in a hurry to find out either. These days there was always something happening.

I stood in front of the small mirror I had hung right beside the bed, finger-combed my hair before deciding to tie it into a bun, and only then punched the panel that unlocked the door. I stepped out of my cramped quarters to see an ocean of people walking down the corridors and toward the crew mess, and I joined them without thinking twice about it.

 “Any idea what’s going on?” I asked Xyla as she appeared beside me, a spring to her step.

“I have an idea, yes,” she said with a wink.

She used to have such a closed off character, one that I had grown used to, but the past few weeks had changed her. And all because of Gallus, a bronze Shein that acted as one of the ship’s engineers. The two had grown…intimate. At least the sounds coming out of her quarters seemed to point at that.

She wasn’t the first one to change because of the Rogue Star crew and, unless I was mistaken, she wouldn’t be the last either. There was something about this race of burly aliens, the ones in command of the ship I now called home, that attracted the female members of the crew.

To be honest, I didn’t really know what to make of it. While some were nice, I had never really developed a close relationship with any of them. The way I saw it, they were nothing but my co-workers. Although, to be fair, co-workers weren’t supposed to drag your ass halfway across the galaxy and put you on a warpath with one of the most powerful forces in the universe.

“Does this have anything to do with the Gaed?” I asked Xyla, but she merely looked back at me over her shoulder to offer me a sly smile. I would get nothing out of her. Still, I was pretty sure that this prospective Gaed rebellion was the reason behind this ship-wide meeting. Either that or the Dominion had found us and were en route, which I thought to be a pretty unlikely scenario. Even them wouldn’t be so stupid to threaten war with an independent system like the Ya-sin.

When Xyla and I finally got to the crew mess, we found the place completely packed. The entire crew of the Rogue Star had answered the call, it seemed. At the center of the room were Kalyn, the woman that used to be our commander back in Persephone station, and Dejar, the Rogue Star’s captain. Aavat, the Rogue Star’s first mate, stood close to them.

“Please, don’t tell me we’ll have to go on the run again,” I muttered under my breath. Xyla said nothing, but she laid one hand on my shoulder and squeezed it softly. Then, to my surprise, she started walking toward Kalyn and Dejar.

“Thank you all for being here,” she started to say, addressing the whole room. “A few of you have your suspicious about the reason behind this meeting, so let me be straightforward with you: if you thought you’d be coming here because of the Gaed rebellion…then you’re absolutely right.”

Damn, I knew it.

Running one hand through my hair, I considered my next move. As a programmer and hacker, I had the know-how when it came to network systems, and I could easily infiltrate the Dominion system and create false identities for the teams we’d send in these covert-ops.

When we first came on board the Rogue Star, I’d kept my head down.

Didn’t volunteer any information.

Even if it might have helped, the Shein were aliens. Strangers.

Chief Aavat had put me on to scrubbing pipes. Boring, but safe.

Now we were all in danger. And the crew weren’t strangers anymore.

These were my friends.

Maybe, maybe this was worth standing up for.

It’d be a lot of work, but what the hell.

“Alright,” I said, taking a step forward. “I’m in. Even if I regret it.”

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