First Warning (2005) is the first SF novel in the Acorna's Children series. Khorii is Linyaari, the daughter of Acorna and Aari. She is six Linyaari years old, the equivalent of twelve Standard years. Her foster brother, Elviiz, is the android creation of Maak, the android first mate of the Condor.
Khorii and her parents, Elviiz and Khiindi-- Khorii's cat -- are onboard the Condor bound for Kezdet to visit Acorna's adoptive fathers. Khorii is convinced that this trip will be boring and is already tired of the eternal night outside the viewers. When she enters the control room to spend some time with her Uncle Joh -- Captain Jonas Becker -- and RK -- Roadkill -- the feline first mate, she finds Becker gloating over a derelict spaceliner, the La Estrella Blanca.
The distress beacon is broadcasting and the ship is filled with dead bodies. When Becker boards the liner, he soon catches the plague and so do RK and Khiindi. Khorii hastily follows Becker and the cats to heal them.
Becker takes the death ship to a nearby storage asteroid and they continue on to Kezdet. There they learn that plague has been reported on several worlds. The Federation requests that Acorna and Aari travel to Paloduro in the Solojo system to heal the sick. The Condor takes a side trip to Maganos Moonbase to drop off Khorii, Elviiz and Khiindi, despite their objections.
Khorii makes friends with several children in the school on Maganos Moonbase, including the aquatic Poopuus, but Elviiz makes an enemy of Marl Fidd. The overdue supply ship Mana finally comes to Maganos Moonbase, but the crew has the plague. Khorii, Elviiz, and two students -- Hap Hellstrom and Sesseli -- take the shuttle Crow up to the plague ship. Khorii heals Jaya -- the only living member of the crew -- and then decontaminates the ship and cargo.
The school administrators refuse to accept the now purified cargo, including necessary food supplies, so Asha Bates -- the astrogation instructor -- takes her own shuttle up to the Mana. Unfortunately, she also brings Marl Fidd aboard. Bates successfully convinces the school staff that the food stuff is plague free, but they still refuse to allow her or the students or Jaya to enter Maganos Moonbase.
In this story, Khorii starts seeing blue spots when she heals plague victims or decontaminates cargo. At first she thinks that she is just getting tired, but then she realizes that these blue spots are the plague itself. Now she can check for the plague without exerting her healing powers.
Khorii successfully heals plague victims elsewhere, but finds herself close to exhaustion afterward. Acorna and Aari heal the surviving population on Paloduro, but they completely deplete their energy and catch a mutated version of the plague. Now they are plague carriers, without apparent symptoms themselves, but spreading the disease to others. They infect Becker, Maak and RK on the Condor and are only able to partially heal their friends.
This series is intended for young adults and thus is quite linear in its approach; it shows only a handful of viewpoints during the story. The plot tends to be simplistic, but the concepts are anything but simple. The Linyaari are pacifistic vegetarians, but they have to deal with a hostile, carnivorous universe. Sometimes they lose their tempers, but usually they use their minds and mental skills to find more acceptable solutions.
Highly recommended for McCaffrey & Scarborough fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of healing, suspense and adventure.
-Arthur W. Jordin