|aPreviously published in Binary Star 5 (Dell, 1981)
|aA shorter version of this story originally appeared in Analog, 1980.
|aOn a voyage toward the boundaries of the known universe, nine misfit academics seek out first contact with a shadowy alien race. But another enigma is the Nightflyer itself, a cybernetic wonder with an elusive captain no one has ever seen in the flesh. Soon, however, the crew discovers that their greatest mystery - and most dangerous threat - is an unexpected force wielding a thirst for blood and terror.
When a scientific expedition is launched to study an alien race, the only ship available is the Nightflyer - a mysterious ship whose equally mysterious captain remains locked away, refusing to interact with his new passengers in person. Worse, the mission's telepath, Melantha Jhirl, senses a presence aboard the ship: dangerous, volatile, and alien. And then, one by one, the passengers start dying. Only Melantha - genetically enhanced and able to think three steps ahead of most of humanity - has a chance of figuring out the mystery... if she can stay alive long enough.