Lor - LSDF Training Base "Hotel Horm'el" The soft click of a door being opened was immediately followed by a familiar waking call for the three dozen occupants of what, prior to the previous evening, had been Training Unit 24's barracks. Now the thirty-five lorath and one human were proud graduates. Rolling out of bed in a spectrum of wakefulness as the lights gradually illuminated, there was a moment of relative peace filled only by the rustling of fabric before thirty-five voices sang out, joined by the muffled voice of other lorath in other barracks across the base. The air within the barracks was soon filled with the familiar morning hymn, the voices of men and women weaving together while one waited by. Then thirty-six bags packed the night before were collected, and with a familiarity of months of routine, Unit 24 stepped out into the hall and made their way out into the dewy morning air and pre-dawn light for the last time. Lining up along side the modest gray painted bus that would take them from the training base, the graduates were debriefed and began sounding off one by one in a role-call before crossing to the bus, stowing their baggage, and boarding. The familiarity of the rote sound off almost distracted from the knowledge that they would soon be parting ways with many of their fellows as they dispersed to their upcoming assignments. This feeling of easy familiarity was reinforced as a ripple of quiet laughter shifted through their number as Nisina Shyr'liri or "Tealeaf" as she was better known, an arboreal rodent aspected Lmanel complained as she always did. Her sleepy voice once again put forward the question of just why they had to wake up in the nether hours of the morning as she made her way toward the bus. With easy smiles on their faces, their remaining number sounded off an progressed almost without note until their, now former, commanding officer Il'lan beckoned for one of their number. Stepping out of the line a tall oval faced and generously proportioned Fyunnen crossed the space with a purposeful stride in a futile attempt to mask her nervousness. An older Fyunnen woman, Il'lan "Glee" Sonn'el was built like weathered stone, a look which contrasted heavily with the soft youth of the one she'd called to her. Despite standing almost two heads shorter than her junior, her presence and the experience behind the amicable smile made it clear that it was her shadow being cast over the other. It had taken but a crook of her finger to call the subject of her interest over and she greeted her with almost familial warmth, "Delfrey. I know you like to get into trouble when left to your own devices, so I'm putting you on chaperone duty. Make sure Mr. Lewis' needs are met and that he ends up in the same place you do." With a pleasant smile that promised unspeakable things should her wishes be ignored, the older woman firmly patted her junior on the back, pushing her toward the bus. With her informal dismissal and goodbye given Il'lan watched the tall figure of Kay'lana Delfrey sheepishly march toward the bus. With her bag stowed, it was not long before she found the yellow-blonde man seated and gazing out the window as he took in the sights of what had been his home for a little over a quarter of a year. With little option otherwise Kay'lana found herself exchanging awkward pleasantries and negotiated herself into the human's company. As she settled in, she once again found herself faced with a mixture of skepticism and wonder at how the one human who had been a part of her training group, and now who she was to chaperone, had become a hero of the Matriarchy. Shortly after the last member of their former unit settled in the cool interior of the bus, the windows darkened as the glass adjusted to filter out the glare of the breaking dawn light. With a gentle shiver as the bus' diesel engine started, and just as the fiery hues of the sunrise began to paint the sky they set out on the first leg of their journey. The opening stretch consisted largely of a well maintained paved road which slithered among the hills of the sub-tropical jungle which surrounded the training base. The road wove its way in a fairly direct line which crossed the countryside between Hotel Horm'el and the nearby town of Sel'ed, where they'd be transferring to the rapid rail line that would take them north to the starport that would take many of them off of Lor for the first time in their lives. As they rolled through the town, the red sun rising into the sky and beginning to bleed the familiar lavender hue into the sky the bus came to a sudden stop as a shout rang out. The shout was followed by a dark gray streak of a canine of some sort which sprinted across the road in front of the bus almost immediately followed by a gleeful looking young lmanel girl accompanied by a loping bear like animal. The girl darted across the road, net in hands as she chased the fleeing animal at a full sprint and just as soon as they arrived they were gone down an alleyway. Before the bus could depart again, a woman approached the stopped bus and a brief discussion occurred with the driver. Apparently a relation of the driver, a series of insistent assertions and familial teasing delayed the bus a while longer. A momentary departure and return that was heralded by a pleasant scent filling the air indicated the reason for the wait as a basket of freshly baked goods was passed in through the window. With thanks and a promise to visit soon given, the driver passed the basket of baked goods behind them and indicated for the food to be distributed among the sleepy occupants as the bus was once again set into motion and they continued on their way. A slower trip through the waking town of Sel'ed allowed for some gossip to be exchanged with the locals through the bus' windows, as a few among their number questioned after family or friends local to the area as they conversed with those who walked along side the bus. This pleasant taste of community was all too brief however as they momentarily came to a stop a short ways outside the large well decorated structure which served as the rail station. Though a smaller stop on the rail line, the connection to Hotel Horm'el meant that the freshly graduated recruits stepped into a hive of activity. They could see supplies which were in the process of being offloaded from the train by teams of helashio workers, while fresh recruits poured off of the train under the careful watch of LSDF personnel. Given only a moment to take in the sight before they themselves were herded through the ordered chaos of the loading platform, the group was ushered into one of the train cars and settled in a carpeted lounge for their trip north while their baggage was transferred from the bus to the train. As the group explored the lounge and quickly settled in to the space prepared for a more comfortable ride. With the prospect of down time in comfortable accommodations before the group, it wasn't long before the cards came out and many low stakes wagers were made. As recreation intended to facilitate the transfer of polished rocks between the car's occupancy set into motion, the train too began to depart. A slow acceleration gradually eased away the sounds of the outside world which had mutely been heard through the car windows. Now they faded away completely settling the car into a hushed whisper of motion as the sensation of rapid acceleration could be felt by all occupants of the lounge, signaling that they'd begun their trip northward and into the heart of the continent. Arriving at the northern junction at Ti'brem a couple of hours later thrust the group into a greater flurry of activity, driving home for the group just how peaceful and, in some ways, relaxing their time at the training base had been. Stepping out onto the platform a quartet of waiting LSDF officers were quick to pick out the individuals they sought breaking up the group suddenly. A few quick goodbyes were all that were managed before they were fragmented and led from the receiving terminal. Marching across the attached base passed them through a montage of unfamiliar sights which indicated clearly that the LSDF was in motion, though the extent of just what was being done was something they could only guess at. Making their way past trains of vehicles and across a tarmac a final redundant headcount was made to ensure that all individuals had made the journey without getting lost. Then, with all individuals accounted for their group was directed to load up, boarding one of the ready Journeyman shuttles which would take them to one of various points in high orbit above Lor. Hero and graduate once again found themselves seated side by side, one returning to the familiar realm of space, while the other was leaving her home planet for the first time in her life. The sensation of acceleration into the upper atmosphere, and the transition into low orbit proceeded with less fanfare than would be expected as they crossed a distance, and exceeded the speed of even the high-speed rail line they'd ridden on only an hour earlier. Then with a curious sensation of shifting weight they were propelled out of low orbit toward the next transfer point on their journey. For Kay'lana and Danny, this meant that they found themselves passing through an umbilical and waited with their peers for a brief moment in an airlock before stepping into the surprisingly pleasant air of an orbital facility. Unexpectedly, both were greeted by familiar scents of plant life and comfortable temperatures which dispelled many of their assumptions of a typical orbital facility. Coming to terms with their new surroundings the pair were greeted by a cheerful helashio wearing a khaki armband who ushered them away from the rest of their group and led them along the unfamiliar corridors. After a pause while the helashio activated a security scanner, Kay'lana and Danny entered what was unmistakably a waiting room. Scattered about the room where mixed groups composed almost exclusively of lorath for the most part arranged in groups ranging from five to ten individuals who were talking quietly among themselves. An occasional glance was spared toward the door where the newcomers had arrived though little attention was given to them before a cheerful Lmanel made her way to her feet. Crossing the room a smile was given, and a calico rodent was spotted poking out of her breast pocket as she urged the two newcomers to join her circle of companions while they waited. Settling with the group, consisting of a quartet of Fyunnen, two Lmanel including the one who had recruited them for their social circle, and a pair of Occhestians the group quickly traded information. They discovered that they were all bound for the edge of Matriarchy space, the majority of the group save for the Occhestians quickly learned that they shared the same future as security garrison personnel. The final two, however, were destined to be technicians the staff whose duties they had been training to work along side in codependent roles. As promises of mutual support in their new assignment were traded among their number, the conversation turned to speculation of the roles of the other occupants of the room pointing out a couple of oddball individuals, a pair of humans involved in another group. Before conversations could progress much further however, a Lmanel officer entered the room, and called the collected soldiers to attention before directing them to line up for medical check-ups and preparation for transit. *** "Welcome back." The words were spoken as a shiver worked its way down her back. Eyes blinked open and then again as they refocused on an Occhestian man who was in the process of checking her vitals. Determining that she was lucid and coordinated enough, he gently helped her sit up on the medical bed upon which she lay. "You're going to be a little unsteady, and probably disoriented for a little while. That's normal." The words were spoken with a reassuring tone, but still they came off as rote as her mind tried to assert itself sluggishly. A thought slowly come to mind. Cryo recovery. Sitting and shaking her head gently, Kay'lana's fingers flexed on the edge of the medical table taking hold of something solid as her gaze wandered the room. She could see where other medical technicians were attending to similarly disoriented lorath around her, gentle words being spoken in hushed tones. Her attention was once again directed toward the man who had been there when she woke up, "Feel free to take a couple of minutes to get your bearings. Then when you're ready to try walking, let me know and we'll get you on your way to welcome orientation." *** Welcome Orientation Welcome orientation, as the gathered group of fresh arrivals learned, was at the end of a painted line on the floor. Located within a utilitarian room with soft gray chairs and a wall spanning window overlooking some rolling grassy hills that led into a friendly looking copse of trees. At the front of the room was a cheerful and notably buxom Occhestian woman who bounced on the balls of her feet as she waited for the final arrivals to get settled into their seats. Once the group was satisfactorily settled the woman spoke up with a cheerful, clear voice that marked her as a practiced orator, "Welcome, everyone! I am Vaal'eska Somm'ir, and I'll be getting you up to speed and helping you get settled in." A pause and a smile for the collected group was provided before she continued, "As you may remember you have spent the past two weeks in cryosleep and were transferred by the LSDF Zahl-Class Rez'tig, from Lor, to where we are now out in system E-9. We are presently on the surface of the fifth planet of the system in the southern stretch of the tropical band. As a reminder, and sorry to dash any hopes, E-9-V is a planet composed almost entirely of ice with a surface temperature of only about thirty-three degrees above absolute zero at most times. As such it is inadvisable to venture outside of the facility even with protective equipment. "Now that you know where you are, I would like to welcome you to one of the LSDF's premier research facilities Or'ri Ro'ichekky, or as we prefer to call it, Tropical Paradise. Here you will be either working on projects for the betterment of the Matriarchy, or working to help ensure that those who work here feel safe and secure. I look forward to working along side of you all." After a moment's pause to let the information presented sink in Vaal'eska cheerfully inquired, "Now, before we get you familiarized with the arboretum and central living area, do you have any questions?"