Gredin te Balamont is thrilled to fulfill a childhood ambition: her first off-planet trip to Tradepoint. She attends as one of nine hundred Vennans on a four-day cultural and trade exchange to the space station, where alien traders from two dozen different worlds come to do business. She is a gifted Speaker, and her abilities as a translator and diplomat have been requested by the Vennan delegation.
But Gredin’s first night of sleep on Tradepoint is shattered by a horrific vision: the verdant homeworld she left behind has been destroyed, and the safety of the delegation – the only Vennans left alive in all of time and space – now rests on her shoulders. Stunned and grieving, she must use her skills as a Speaker to barter on her race’s behalf for the most valuable prize of all: their survival.