Just before the ship’s arrival at the space station, he learns the full extent of the information Ramirez withheld from both his crew and the planetary governments he had been negotiating with. It turns out that the space station was attacked as a result of Ramirez completely screwing up a first contact with the aliens he encountered. (Hint: Not replying to an attempt to communicate and then zipping for home can generally be seen as a hostile action by anyone with a brain.)
When they reach the station, they discover that there has been a six year standoff between the alien vessel and the space station. The Pilot’s Guild administration on the station attempt to order Sabin to avoid contacting the alien, but she ignores the order. Bren manages to open communications with the ship, but it is very limited and Sabin has to deal with the Pilot’s Guild.
The Guild turns out to be very xenophobic and hostile. They are deeply suspicious of the ship’s long absence and make various demands. They are able to back up their threats because they have booby-trapped the fuel supply. Sabin is forced to go onboard the station, leaving Jase in charge of the entire operation. We learn that the aliens apparently attempted to send an emissary to communicate with the station. Unfortunately, the Guild was not in any way interested in talking to the emissary and are using the alien as a hostage.
Bren takes a more hands on approach in this novel, and has to do a lot of quick thinking in this novel. This book had a much faster pace and there was less of a feeling of “hurry up and wait,” that seemed to be common in Defender. I liked the character interactions and the process of Bren figuring out how to communicate with the alien ship.