The smooth, loping strides of Kalm echoed down the corridor. She yet held the xeno weapon pulled from the unconscious tech priest earlier, though her mind was elsewhere. Life aboard a starship had little in common with her days spent on the surface of Burnscour. The strange beings they met, the wondrous places they visited…the nonstop perils that presented themselves on a nigh daily basis. Well, at least that much was the same.
A small group of crewmen walked past, their eyes on the floor. Kalm found that most humans were at the best frightened of her kind, and at the worst intolerant of their existence. There was little love loss from her end. Captain Khal proves to be a rare exception, and he certainly seems to know the value of a thing. The Rogue Trader definitely did not keep the Kroot on board for their charming personalities and conversational skills.
Coming to a stop in front of the door to the Kroot barracks, she took a deep breath. Her warriors had already noticed Kalm’s presence and unconsciously filled the air with the scent of subservience. Similarly, she began to exude the scent of the pack alpha…the scent of a Shaper. Kalm’s body was changing slightly each day, evolving more and more to fill the role she never asked for. Already she felt stronger, faster, and more aware than she had been before departing their home on Burnscour. Those changes have been far more welcome than the strange visions and haunting nightmares that seem to accompany them.
A quick twist of the wheel, and she was through the hatch. The accommodations given to the Kroot were adequate (and far more than Kalm initially expected). The barracks seemed to be designed for a human fighting force more than twice their number, which enabled the alien warriors to spread out comfortably. Rarely did one of the crew, save for perhaps Bass or Ignatio, ever dare to venture into their domain. The smell of incense from druidic shrines mixed with that of fresh meat hanging above some of the bunks would turn the stomach of your average human. For Kalm, the smells were barely noticeable over the various scents being given off by her comrades. The Kroot communicate this way almost more than they do with words. And as always…the messages being conveyed were mixed.
The remnants of Kalm’s tribe had not been ecstatic to hear they were to be drafted into the service of a human privateer. Their home on Burnscour, had in fact been utterly destroyed (albeit “indirectly”) by the very ship they now inhabited. Some consider being on board to be both a curse and an insult to their ancestors. Kalm had no answers for them, save that they must have both faith and patience. Her claims of visions linking the fate of their people to Viktor Khal did less and less to satisfy their dissent, and some were growing bold. The quills held together behind her head strained to stand on end as she sensed anger and aggression..
A rather massive Kroot named Sterk stepped forward. “Shaper, why are we still here?!”
“Because this is where we are meant to be,” Kalm replied, tightening her grip on the barrel of the alien weapon.
“First he has us attack an enemy vessel and then fires on it while we are still on board. And today, we are reduced to petty thugs…beating a pathetic human near to death for what?” Sterk took a step closer to Kalm.
She remained motionless. “We do so because we were ordered to. We are mercenaries now. This is the way our fellow Kroot live amongst the stars.”
“We have as much in common with these other Kroot as we do the humans themselves,” he retorted, gesturing angrily with outstretched hands. “You make a mockery of our tribe!”
Kalm continued to stand her ground. “As long as I am Shaper, my word is law. We will see this through to the end.”
Sterk turned his back to her muttering “Indeed…as long as you are Shaper…”
Without warning, he turned and lunged at her. The smell of his betrayal far preceded his actions however, and Kalm crouched ready and waiting. She swung the xeno gauntlet like a club, smashing it into Sterk’s face and cracking his beak with the force of the blow. The larger Kroot took the attack and powered through it. Their two bodies bounced off a support column and fell harshly to the ground. The gathered Kroot warriors squawked loudly, forming a circle around the duel for leadership…offering no help to either party.
Kalm’s vision blurred momentarily. Sterk was upon her though, pushing her back to the floor and whirring the teeth of her dislodged Crimson Crown to life. She clumsily grabbed for one of the half dozen other weapons adorning her body. Sparks soon began to fly as the chain weapon cut through the feeble blade of the knife she brought up to defend. With only precious seconds to spare, Kalm reached her free hand out for the xeno weapon and thrust it’s pointed tip into the soft flesh of Sterk’s abdomen. He bellowed in pain, and she used the moment to flip him and reverse the mount.
Temporarily lost in the rage, Kalm stabbed him over and over with the weapon. He swung wildly with the razor disk, cutting a large gash in her cheek and chest. During one of her downswings, her blood-soaked hand hit the activation switch. Instantly, a hundred meters of monomolecular wire exploded into Sterk’s body and literally liquefied his innards. Kalm’s eyes widened as her attacker began to spasm uncontrollably…and then fell silent. Absentmindedly, her fingers slipped off the trigger and retracted the wire. A hush passed over the frenzied Kroot.
Kalm stood slowly and glanced around the room. Then, raising the weapon over her head, she issued forth a terrifying avian screech. Her brethren repeated the horrible sound back to her in approval. A speaker located near the door of the room came to life and struggled to relay a message over the noise. Kalm was to report immediately for prisoner transfer. Before leaving, she made sure to mark the body of Sterk with a particular scent…
…one that relayed the message “Not fit for consumption.”