The Paradox Hammer

Breaking the News

Badly

Kalm’s lengthy gait down the corridor was accompanied by the frantic footfalls of a creature much smaller. The young street urchin had become more or less attached to the alien since the incident at the station. With the gang destroyed and no ties to the xenophobic teachings of the Empire, he evidently saw no problem with it.

The lavish portal to the Captain’s private quarters always gave Kalm a bit of pause, certainly the Khal thought very much of himself and his family. She rapped her fist against the door, insuring not to damage the intricate gold and silver reliefs. A moment passed in silence before a small window opened on the left wall. The teetering servo-skull affectionately named “Bob” floated out and regarded her with technological detachment. Seeing Kalm was nothing new, but the sight of the boy elicited several curious beeps and boops. Bob moved in for a closer look, only to be halted by a protective snarl. As if tipping it’s nose up in disgust, the skull made a sound that could only be construed as a huff and disappeared back into the hole. The large door creaked open seconds later..

Kalm used a gentle shove to prod the child inside. His eyes sparkled as the Khal’s vast collection of weapons, trinkets, and treasures came into view. The captain was sitting at his table, dining on a meal fit for a planetary governor. He wiped his mouth on a napkin embroidered with the family crest (surprisingly not a small duplicate of his Warrant) and cocked an eyebrow “Oi…what’s with the brat? I thought we were done with him.”

“Apologies. I have…become attached,” Kalm responded with deliberate intonation (her Gothic was improving). “He will join the tribe.”

Khal practically spit his thrice distilled amesec all over the varnished table top. “pffft…he…what?!”

Kalm half expected this, having received a similar reaction from her tribal council. Due to the complex and demanding nature of the role performed, female Shapers are not permitted to bare children. In fact, over time they lose the biological capability altogether. It was for this reason Shapers are allowed (often encouraged) to adopt. This is primarily accomplished by taking in the child of a fallen Kroot warrior, but as Kalm was quick to point out, there is no law against adopting a foreign species. Her reasoning was impulsive and selfish, but she didn’t care. However, explaining the customs of her people to the Captain wasn’t something she particularly wanted to do.

She stated her intent as bluntly as possible. “I will raise the small one. He will learn our ways. No harm will come to him while I draw breath.”

He rubbed his chin thoughtfully and pushed the brim of his hat up, eyeing the runt that was undoubtedly trying to steal some of his Ostgaz Glimer Shards at this moment. “I don’t normally…more like _ever_…allow children to run around my star ship. Much less with a vicious, blood-thirsty alien, no offense.”

“A compliment”, she snarled.

Khal took off his hat and ran a hand through his hair. “Fine, just don’t come crying to me if he falls into some giant gears or gets his face melted off by a steam jet..” He took a sip of his drink. “…or gets butchered in a boarding action..” Another sip. “….or gets possessed by a daemon.”

Kalm raised a hand. “Understood.”

“So, any other pressing business…or can I get back to my meal? This…roasted bird-thing isn’t going to eat itself. I think..” He warrily jabbed it with a knife almost as if he doubted it.

“Er…yes. There is.”

This might have been the first time Khal had seen Kalm hesitate, as he put his drink down to avoid another potential choking comment. “Go on…”

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