He was so excited to finally arrive at Indra 1a. Getting out of the stifling culture of his elders and meeting up with some other like-minded youth set his young Xi’an imagination running wild. For the last several years, he’d obsessed over vids coming out of old Perry line systems and UEE space. Seeing fellow Xi’an exploring the exciting and unfettered lifestyles of their human neighbors amazed him. That life seemed filled with adventure, excitement, and endless tantalizing possibilities. He could hardly believe that he had finally made it here and could experience all of this himself. He was saddened by the fact that his coming of age was right around the corner. Soon, he would have to leave all of this behind and serve his term with the military. But even that was just a short fifteen years and would go by like a flash. And that life, too, had the potential for plenty of excitement.

A chirp on his datapad interrupted his reverie – his friend had pinged him with a job posting. He was about his own age and very like-minded. They were both determined to take full advantage of this stage in their lives and get all the excitement they could out of it. The job posted didn’t look brand new, but the content immediately grabbed his attention. A human was getting a crew together to “roam and explore all that this harsh, unforgiving and wondrous galaxy has to offer.” These ‘Talon’s’ might be just the people to hook up with.

He thought about responding to the ad straight away, but hated the thought of sitting around waiting for a reply. So instead, he followed the directions in the ad and headed downtown to their corporate office.

It took him a while to get there. Everywhere he looked, every corner he turned, brought new and fascinating things. Human couples displaying affection in public, something he found tantalizing, a wide variety of food being sold on the street tempting him to taste – a temptation he did not resist. Eventually, he found his way to Corpra building and made his way up to the appropriate suite.

As he stepped out of the elevator, he saw a slim, dark-haired human come bursting out of his destination office. The determination on her face was not totally obscured by a dramatic, wide-brimmed hat. She looked confident and in charge, but obviously in a hurry. She breezed past him, not seeming to notice his presence. He desperately wanted in on whatever excitement was about to ensure, but his confidence faltered as the beautiful woman brushed quickly past him.

His disappointment mounted as a knock on the door yielded no results. Apparently, his chance to make contact had been that moment in the hallway. He spent the next several days wandering the streets in the nearby area. Downtown was a fascinating place. People in a hurry, people taking in the sights, old people, new people, all so very different than his fellow Xi’an that he grew up with. He found an establishment right near the office that allowed him to eat, drink, and find interesting people to talk to, all within sight of the office building’s main entrance. He was keeping a sharp eye out for the woman he missed earlier. For a few days, he spent most of his time enthusiastically introducing himself to many of the establishment’s patrons and milking them for stories, leads to exciting activities, etc. Most were kind, helpful, and amused at his eagerness. Some were rude and standoffish, but that didn’t deter him much.

His patience was rewarded after a few short days. He recognized the wide-brimmed hat striding up to the building, this time with another human female in tow – a blond. He was much more confident now. Spending a few more days practicing the UEE common language, his accent was a little better, and he was confident that he could at least make himself understood.

His first few days as a talon were… interesting… to say the least. Rushell and Alexandra were kind to him, and several more people joined up in the days that followed. He found it incredibly exciting to be part of such a diverse and colorful group. There were also many awkward exchanges. He found that he frequently overcompensated in his social skills. Xi’an was typically so aloof and distant, and he embraced the much more casual and open demeanor of the humans. However, he found that it was easy to go too far in that direction, and some of his conversations, especially with the females, turned awkward. He found them fascinated, gorgeous, and intoxicating. But, as frank and open as the humans tended to be, early, frequent, or indelicate romantic or sexual overtures were off-putting to many. He discovered the hard way that humans had more subtlety in their interactions that the cheap Xi’an vids gave them credit for.

He thought he’d better start keeping a journal. All of these new and exciting experiences would be worth preserving:

Everyone seemed to come from a variety of different backgrounds, but all of us had this is common: that we didn’t have much in common. We were all misfits from different walks of life seeking a place in the galaxy, and that sense really brought us all together. This organization seemed to have quite a significant wealth of resources, ships, and equipment. There seemed to be a sizable fleet, run largely by veteran members of the organization that we didn’t see much in those first days. Instead, we spent those days getting to know the other new members, going through orientation with Rushell, and getting outfitted with some basic gear and training.

The real excitement came a few days later when we set out on our first flight together. Rush decided to break in the new crew by taking us all up in one of the Org’s Constellation Aquilas. It was a beautiful ship with an extensive sensor package. The Talon’s had been hired to do some scans of an asteroid field in the nearby Kins system, and it was just the sort of simple job perfect for training new recruits. A few of us got slightly space-sick as the rookie pilot got used to the controls, but otherwise, the mission started off smoothly.

At about the midpoint of our mission, an audible alarm sounded, indicating a distress beacon had been activated nearby. At first, I was giddy with excitement as this simple mission seemed to be turning into an adventure, then a slight twinge of guilt at my excitement considering the peril and misfortune that this poor individual was exposed to. All of us quickly sprang into action, and we plotted a course to Kins I, a mesoplanet where the beacon appeared to originate.

The highly sophisticated sensor array quickly pinpointed the beacon’s location, and we found a suitable landing zone close to the wreck site. Fortunately, an Ursa rover was parked in the cargo bay of the Constellation, so we suited up, brought a few weapons just in case, and the rover ambled out over the rugged terrain. It wasn’t long before we crested the last hill and the ship came into view.

The weapons turned out to be unnecessary. A 300i had run into engine trouble and had to make an emergency landing. I was fascinated with the pilot – human, daredevil, and racer. One of the crewmates knew first aid, and treated his minor injuries, while Rush put in a call to her fleet to send a repair crew out to help get this pilot in the air again. The pilot was immensely grateful for our assistance, and may even join our motley crew!

The whole experience was incredible – exploring the void, helping fellow pilots in need, and building lasting bonds with a great crew. This was exactly the sort of thing I set out to do when I left home and came to the Indra system. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for us.

~~By Jacen Terek