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I think a trade ship of humans, and 3 alien guards who I think the race started with a K. They have 2 arms and 2 legs, armored exoskeleton, and shed their skin. They couldn't fight while shedding, and until the new skin hardened. Possibly mercenary or exploration, but pretty sure it was a trade ship. There was a series of at least 3 books, and probably published before 2000. May have been other aliens, too. I believe they were on the cover of one of the series books by the ramp.

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  • Was one of them a rich kid running away from an arranged marriage? – Spencer Feb 28 at 0:57
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It could be the Space Angel series by John Maddox Roberts , if some of your details are slightly different.

It has a trade ship named the Space Angel. It has two (not three) alien guards. Their race is "Viver", which starts with a V, not a K. They do have 2 arms, 2 legs, armored exoskeleton, and shed their skin. They cannot fight right after their skin is shed, until the new skin hardens.

In the second novel, one of the Vivers sheds its skin, and the other defends it until the new skin is ready.

It was a trade ship, although it gets involved with exploration. There are 2 books in the series, not 3. The books were published before 1989. There were other aliens, a crab-like being. In the attached image of the cover, you can see one Viver standing next to the ship's hatch, which is the ramp.

Cover of "Spacer: Window of the Mind" by John Maddox Roberts; the cover has the caption "She Was a Tough Girl... From the Worst Neighborhood in the Galaxy."
The cover shows an oblique view of the right side of a silver spaceship with a landing leg in the left foreground and the windscreen of the cockpit in the right midground.  A hatch is open in the middle of the view, and a tall, golden-armoured humanoid is standing on its left hooved foot outside, with its right foot raise and set inside the ship.  Its arm reaches protectively across the hatch, and it looks offscreen to the right.  Inside the hatch a young human female in a green dress stands peeking out from behind the right side.  In the distance, beyond the spaceship, is a building and what appears to be a mob.

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