Farah walked down the corridor. They were in space and she still hadn’t been given her duties. She’d been gently told to take some time to settle. She glanced up at the sound of footsteps. Katie was heading towards her.
“Hey, Katie,” Farah said.
“What is it?” Katie asked.
“You said that I can start piloting my ship once Lucy clears me, right?”
“So, how long will that take?” Farah asked. “And why does she have to clear me anyway?”
“She’ll probably only take a couple days,” Katie explained. “The why is simple enough. She’ll just check to make sure that your ties with the Alliance are really severed.”
“I don’t see why it matters,” Farah said. “You said that you guys aren’t doing anything illegal.”
“We aren’t,” Katie said. “But we are embarrassments to the Alliance. The people on this ship… Well, all of us except Lucy, are people doing jobs that the Alliance has deemed us unqualified for. As far as they’re concerned, we can all get killed out here and it would be for the best. That’s why we can’t trust someone with strong ties to them. Our lives depend on each other.”
Katie leaned against the wall with her arms crossed. “If you really want to know more you can use your computer to check the alliance’s files on us. I just suggest that you remember that their file on you says that you were deemed unfit for your duties after your gross negligence led to unacceptable civilian casualties. So, don’t take their files on us at greater face value than we took their file on you.”
Farah nodded. “Don’t worry. I won’t take them too seriously.” She turned and headed back towards her quarters. At the very least, checking the files would give her something to do.
“Let’s see,” she muttered. “How about the Captain first.”
She hurriedly input the name.
The file wasn’t long. Ophelia had been in her final year as a cadet at the Alliance’s most prestigious space academy when the Board had decided that she lacked the ability to be an officer and had thrown her out. She had gone to Akumil and secured a vessel under their less stringent standards.
Farah propped her head up with her hand under her chin. It wasn’t unusual for cadets in their early years to be thrown out but a cadet in their final year was unheard of. Something had definitely happened. She wondered if the captain would tell her someday. She decided to move on to the next one.
The word “Classified” flickered across her screen in bold red letters. That was worrying. The alliance rarely did that with files belonging to people they wanted blacklisted. The only cases Farah could think of where they had were times that the person was involved in some investigation that the Alliance wanted hidden. Surely, Katie couldn’t be an agent of theirs. She always sounded so bitter when she talked about the alliance. So why? Was she a criminal?
Farah shook her head. Speculating wouldn’t help. Shakily, she typed in the next name.
His file was short and to the point. He’d been a peacekeeper, just like her. He’d been there for seven years and been decorated several times. Then, three years and some months ago, his lover had gotten into trouble and been blacklisted by the alliance. A few months after that, Leon had had a breakdown and beat his supervisor, breaking the man’s nose, several teeth and leaving him in need of extreme reconstructive surgery.
At least, that’s what the file said. Farah couldn’t believe it. If the man had really been hurt that badly they would have arrested Leon for assault. Possibly placed him in a psychiatric institution. He had certainly had some altercation with his supervisor, possibly even punched him once but it could’t be as bad as the file indicated. She decided to move to the next one.
She’d been a peacekeeper nine months before but her maturity was lacking and her pranks had caused tens of thousands of credits in property damage at the station, resulting in her dismissal. Farah wouldn’t be surprised to find out that Allison had pulled some pranks, she seemed the type, but the damages were hard to believe.
She had finished first in her engineering class and been sent to an important alliance station where she quickly became the chief of operations. A year ago there had been an accident resulting in nearly twenty deaths. An investigation found that sub-standard equipment had been being used and Grace had been implicated. The evidence hadn’t been strong enough for criminal charges, but it had been enough for her immediate dismissal.
Farah found that hard to believe. If there had really been strong enough evidence that they could trace it back to Grace then they could have certainly taken her to trial. There had to be more to it than that. She wondered if Grace would tell her story. She’d seemed to like Farah when they had met. There was one more file to look at first, though.
He had been at the top of his class at the most prestigious medical institution on Earth. He’d been a practicing doctor for almost seven years. Then, three and a half years ago, he’d been sent to Ca’urrg to help with a plague outbreak. When he returned, he’d been stripped of his medical licence for failing to follow orders.
Farah remembered that case. It had been strange because the plague had been cured when he’d come back with the Ca’urrs specifically giving him their gratitude. She’d always wondered how he’d failed exactly. But he’d been strangely silent when news sources had questioned him and the whole incident had been forgotten. She was curious, but she didn’t want to ask him. He was scary.
She left her quarters and made her way to engineering. Determined to, at least, hear Grace’s story.