The Gorison Traveler Incident - Laurann Dohner

Chapter One

Vivian grinned, staring at Mikey over the vid device. “You know this is going to be the most boring meeting ever.”

“You should come join me.”

“No, thank you. I’ve had to sit through too many of those security team leader meetings. That’s why I became a cultural specialist.”

“Dad wouldn’t have kept you with him at all times as a teenager if you hadn’t gotten into so much trouble.”

She laughed. “True enough. Aren’t you glad I’m all grown up now?”

“I’m just glad you’re back home where you belong. We missed you while you were gone.”

She’d missed her adopted brother and father, too. She’d been thrilled when she’d finished her schooling and gotten hired to work with them on the Gorison Traveler, as her first official job.

He shifted in his seat. “Dad’s on his way.”

“Tell Big M hello for me when you get a chance. I guess it’s time to end our conversation.”

Mikey flashed her a mischievous look. “You don’t want to see what the Ke’ters look like? Dad sent a notice that a small group of them were joining us. He didn’t want anyone to be alarmed at the sight of them.”

Excitement suddenly had her heart racing. “Why are they at a team leader debriefing?”

He shrugged. “Maybe they’re curious to find out how we keep everyone safe, or how we run things on a vessel this large? Who knows. But they’re here.” He turned his handheld vid device enough for her to get a view of the large room. Dozens of men and women in security uniforms were seated in rows in front of him, and she saw her adopted father walk into the room with six large aliens.

A delegation for the Ke’ters had boarded the Gorison Traveler at the Branston Space Station ten days earlier. Vivian’s duties included profiling and interacting with alien races, but Commander Alderson had banned her from going anywhere near their important guests. It hadn’t surprised her. She was new to the job, had breasts, and he held a grudge that her family association to Big M, the ship’s head of security, had procured her the job.

She still fumed that she had been ordered to stay far away from their alien guests. The Ke’ters were a mostly unknown race, currently trying to gain an alliance with United Earth. It would have been an amazing opportunity to study them and share whatever she’d learned with her fellow cultural specialists.

The Ke’ters had approached Commander Alderson on the space station after being introduced by the station director, a friend of his, who’d vouched for their trustworthiness. Vivian guessed the real reason the commander had agreed was to score points with the higher-ups. He could gain a huge promotion if he talked the Ke’ters into giving up some of their technology. Rumor had it they were advanced in weaponry.

Mikey lowered his voice, whispering, “They’re big…and they kind of remind me of Pete.”

She shushed him. Pete was Mikey’s pet iguana. She silently agreed, though. The Ke’ters were a reptilian race with thick arms and legs. They walked upright, but were lizard-like otherwise. Black claws dominated the ends of their three long fingers and one thumb-like hooked appendage that came out of what would be the palm area of their hands, if they’d been human. The Ke’ters also had wide heads attached to slim, long necks. Their uniforms covered most of their skin, but the exposed scales appeared dense.

“Everyone, quiet down.” Big M took the podium, the room going silent. “I’d like to introduce you to Krrnt Sheesk. He’s the ambassador we’re hosting, and he’d like to say a few words.”

Vivian appreciated that Mikey kept their link open, the camera focused on the aliens. It was the only way she’d get to see them while they were aboard. One of them stepped closer to Big M. Her adopted father was tall for a human, but the alien next to him stood taller, putting him around six and a half feet.

“We are grateful you let us on your ship.” The translator device strapped around Krrnt Sheesk’s throat provided a robotic male voice. Their natural language was just clicks and hisses to human ears. “And now we will show our appreciation.” He paused, turning his head to glance at the others in his group. “Humans are a naive race—but tasty.”

Vivian gasped when the aliens suddenly lunged forward, aiming for the rows of security officers.

But her focus remained on Krrnt Sheesk as he grabbed ahold of Big M and threw him hard at the wall.

Mikey cursed,