Senior Arbitrator Leukala Mhal, Marshal-Commodore of the Calixia Castilis Precinct Fleet, is the Calixis fleet’s commander, its figurehead, and its lucky charm. She and her four sisters were void-born aboard an armed trader pressed into service for the tense and bloody Second Sepherine Interdiction. When a miscalculated trajectory resulted in the ship arriving ten days overdue at the Arbites blockade, the shipmaster was fined not only part of his pay, but also some of his cargo, ship’s supplies, and crew. Although the youngest of the five, Leukala volunteered herself to the cull to spare her sisters the pain of separation, and joined the frightened throng shuffling through the transit locks off the ship that had been her world for thirteen years. Most of the tithed were put straight into menial positions, but any young enough to be potential recruits were sidelined for aptitude testing. Leukala, made fierce by desperation, passed the tests with honors and when the Interdiction ended and the Arbites squadron moved on, she was riding in the garrison decks in the uniform of a trainee.
From there the records show little about Arbitor Mhal apart from her presence aboard a series of Precinct ships, until the bloody guerilla war with xenophile raiders through the Drusus Marches. The traitors’ strange weapons and fearsome boarding actions took a heavy toll on the Arbites crews and many younger Arbitrators found themselves yanked up the promotion ladder. Mhal rose to the challenge, commanding ships’ troops and crew sections with an equal measure of resourcefulness, charisma and quickly demonstrating an intuitive grasp of shipboard combat. It took three years for the Arbites and the Navy to turn the tables, hunt out the raiders, and exterminate them. At the final triumph aboard the Arbites flagship Radiant Decree, the raider chieftain was dragged the length of the ship in chains and ceremonially flushed from the airlock with his hands nailed to the small of his back and his writ of execution branded into his chest. Mhal was there to watch as Provost-Commander of the Radiant Decree’s fighting Arbitrator contingent. Within five years she was commanding a ship of her own, a squadron within ten more years, and when the newly-appointed Lord Marshal Goreman needed a commander he trusted to efficiently run his very small, and thin-spread fleet there was only one name he had in mind.
Marshal-Commodore Mhal has never lost the unflagging drive that propelled her through the recruitment trials, and works herself and her fleet calmly and efficiently, but relentlessly. She hates inactivity, always restless for the next mission, the next challenge, the next task—she even walks with an odd forward-leaning gait, as though desperate to arrive where she’s going that few seconds sooner. The Radiant Decree is now her flagship, but when that ship is in port for any lengthy refits she will transfer her flag to one of the other two ships so as to be back out and in active command again. Her temperament is an excellent match for the Lord Marshal’s, and just the right one for the small and overworked fleet she commands. For her the relentless work is a given, rather than a burden, and her own unflappable demeanour and endless energy are an inspiration to her command. Her personal charisma and strong leadership have turned the usual prejudices about void-born inside out and “The Lady” has become something of an iconic figure to her fleet. Portraits of her adorn many halls and quarters, and fleet folklore holds that any ship with her aboard will always prevail and return to dock safely. She has never set foot on a planet’s surface in her life, and has no plans ever to do so.
Leukala Mhal is a startlingly tall woman of slender build, with the trademark pallor of the void-born. She has long, haughty features and blue-grey eyes with prominent epicanthic folds. Her hair has been a glossy gunmetal-grey all her life; more recently it has turned the lighter grey of advancing age. She wears it in a thick, braided cable across her shoulders. She usually dresses in a formal Arbitor-General’s cloak over neat shipboard fatigues, the cloak pinned carefully so it won’t billow or tangle in low gravity.