The Gate Jumpers Saga - Elin Wyn

Bound to the Alien


Taryn was bored. She moved her fingers aimlessly over the touchscreen in her lap, numbly flicking through digital page after digital page of reports. She sighed and glanced to her right. Jeline and Sherre, her pilot and navigator, were talking in excited tones. They had been happily slaving over the Solar Positioning System tabletop for the past hour, their heads bent together as they pointed and made marks. Taryn grinned in spite of herself. At least someone was having fun.

“I really think you should take something.”

Taryn rolled her eyes, and pointedly ignored Lyra standing directly to her left. She was the ship’s medic and a decent colleague, but there were moments when Taryn felt like the woman had been assigned as her own personal nurse from hell. Moments like now, when she was trying to force-feed her pills.

“Taryn.” Lyra crossed her arms, towering over Taryn, who merely slouched under her shadow. “What’s an earache now could be a migraine by the next jump—”

“Nope,” Taryn said with a particular hard flick to her screen. “I’m not taking that crap. It puts me to sleep, and I’m not playing the nod-off game in a jump sequence.”

Lyra pursed her lips, glaring at Taryn. She stood there for a few seconds, holding the pose until her infamously short patience ran out and she huffed a sigh. “Taryn—”

“Leave me alone.”


“That’s an order, Medic Conrarson.”

Lyra threw her hands in the air, exasperated. She turned on her heel and marched away – with any luck, back to sick bay. Sure, a scout ship for five wasn’t exactly extravagant, but it did mean a medical lab down the hall between the café and the dorms. Just far away enough for Taryn to avoid Lyra completely, so long as she planned it right. “I’ll show you an order,” Taryn heard Lyra mumble as the doors opened for her.

Taryn waited until she heard the click of them closing behind Lyra to relax. She turned off the reports, tired of the endless figures, and tossed it onto the table before her. With a sigh, she let her head flop back against her headrest, ignoring the headache brewing behind her left eye.

“Sherre, report,” Taryn groaned. She’d meant for it to come out as more of a bark, but really, Sherre was young enough to do anything but not take her captain seriously, anyway.

“We are proceeding to Gate Three, ma’am!” she beamed, her two braids bouncing on her shoulders as she whirled around to look at Taryn. Jeline smiled as she leaned on the Solar Positioning System next to her, softly shaking her head at the girl’s enthusiasm. She was the youngest of them, just barely at the cutoff age of nineteen.

“…How much longer?” Taryn sighed.

“ETA is…” The beeps of the buttons Sherre typed filled the room. “Twenty minutes, Captain!”

Taryn groaned, scrubbing a hand over her face. If there was one thing she couldn’t stand, it was the time it took to do jumps. Oh sure, when the first jump gates had been found it’d revolutionized space travel. They might as well be called time travelers now, what with how far a jump gate could really jump someone into new space, into a new solar system. But all those jumps had to be kept track of so a crew could find their way home, only to turn around and jump through them all over again. Maddening, really. Not to mention how far apart each new set of gates were from each other. Taryn hated jumping through one and feeling that jolt, that addictive vibration of speed and light, only to have to spend an hour or so cruising to the next closest one.

“And after that? How long to the next gate?” Taryn almost hesitated to ask.

“After that, we don’t know,” Sherre shrugged. “It’ll be a new set of jump gates.”

That made Taryn sit up a little straighter. If there was one thing she loved about working on a scout ship, it was the exploring. It was the reason she’d joined as a pilot for jump service, rather than enlisting as a fighter on a weapons ship. Sure, she probably would’ve seen an alien life form by now, but there was a good chance that the form would’ve been an aggressive one. No, out here she was with the stars, alone to venture forth and explore space without the deadlines of war.

“Well? What do you think, Willovitch?” Taryn called to her engineer, Stephine Willovitch. “Should we go right, or left at the