Alison Shaw is a marine biologist.
John Clay is a Commander in the U.S. Navy.
When these two individuals finally get thrown together they will go on to have a series of exciting adventures together, escapades which will have major impact to the world around them.
I should probably mention here Dirk and Sally. They have no last name that I am aware of and probably don't care since 'Dirk and Sally' are just what the humans call this pair of bottle-nosed dolphins; what they call themselves is also not known. They are mentioned here because the adventures mentioned above will involve them along with the humans Shaw and Clay.
We first meet Shaw at a marine research facility in Costa Rica. She is 25 years old at the time and about to get a whole lot older (well, madder anyways). Shaw's specialty deals with what she calls IMIS, or Inter Mammal Interpretive System; "IMIS works by recording all of the recognizable sounds from our dolphins; all of their clicks, whistles, even postures. Once all of those have been captured in multiple scenarios, [the researchers] then start the translation process using an advanced artificial intelligence program". As we meet her and the team she works with, they are on the cusp of a major breakthrough in communicating with the dolphins.
Our first meeting with Clay is as he is meeting with an Admiral in the hallway of the Pentagon's D ring, discussing an anomaly in sensor readings recently discovered. Clay lead a small group known as Electronics and Signaling (E&S), a sub-set of the Dept. of Naval Intelligence, a "specialty that very few understood, let along were interested in". Interestingly (for us if not for the brass) the main purpose for this group was learning "why a technology was not working, where the failure occurred and why". Clay is likely in his mid-40's based on his 22 years of service in the Navy after graduating college, a good deal of those years being part of the elite SEALs before his transition to E&S.
The investigation of the anomaly will take Clay to the facility where Shaw works. Their working relationship will be strained at the beginning, improved after working briefly together, and then get a whole lot worse when Shaw learns that someone took it all, "the servers, IMIS, and the dolphins". Who and why will become a major endeavor for the pair, the first of several increasingly interesting and vital adventures.