Before the Commonwealth existed, there was an expanding, multi-galaxy civilization referred to by its descendants/survivors simply as "First Civ". Due to the combined effects of a too-aggressive policy of expansion, civil unrest, the inequality and abuse of the classes, and the categorizing of augmented humans as a slave class, First Civ disintegrated.
The period of darkness and barbarism that followed is referred to as the Downfall. Various groups of people fled First Civ as they became endangered or more powerful people tried to have them classified as mutants or non-humans, and either sterilized or made them into slaves. Among them were the Khybors, the ancestors of the Leapers.
Some groups of people managed to get hold of ships and flee to distant galaxies.
Far back in Commonwealth history, before the Downfall of First Civ, when the galaxy-spanning civilization called itself the Central Allied Worlds. three novellas in one volume explore the birth of the Khybors, whose descendants will impact the Downfall, the rebirth of civilization, the return to the stars, and the Commonwealth far into the future.
Khrystalis: Kerin is the youngest child of two powerful, intelligent and gifted research scientists. When the military interfers yet again in her father's research, the resulting lab explosion fills Kerin's body with experimental bio-crystal, long before the material is ready for human testing. In a twinkling, she's changed.
Intended to aid the body in repairing itself, bio-crystal is used when medical science is incapable. As the living mineral penetrates down to the genetic level, Kerin learns to change herself and to sense the world in totally new ways. When her gift reaches out beyond her own biology, she stands poised between being the bearer of a great gift for humanity...or a threat that may change the universe.
Ambush: The twins, Casta and Pol, should never have been born, and there are many enemies who would still try to destroy them as they reach adulthood. Hidden away on a remote colony world with their uncle, they're allowed to explore the breadth of their potential as well as to develop all the gifts they can imagine.
That potential is put to good use when their home is attacked and their uncle is kidnapped by enemies intent on destroying first their world, then civilization. The twins' favorite game is called Ambush, and now the game has become reality. Only the enemy will never know what hit them...
When the smoke clears, Casta and Pol regain more than their uncle. Now what the twins are has a name: Khybors.
Wing and Claw: Lor and Jae lead the Khybors, training them to be the frontrunners of exploration teams clearing alien worlds for colonization. They've learned from their youth not to trust the powers-that-be when they speak of peace and cooperation between the emerging groups of augmented Humans and the rest of the Human race. All the signs are there, that the enemies who have been quiet, hiding in the shadows for generations, are ready to emerge and attack once again.
The time has come to reach for the stars, for Khybors to flee to the furthest limits of explored and colonized space, and find a world where they can live in peace and safety. First, they have to rescue the people who dared to stand up for them and speak on their behalf, before their voices are silenced permanently.