The Paradox Hammer
The Quiet End
· 6’5” tall, 200lbs, with a rather slim build…even for a Kroot
· Female: physically, female Kroot are very difficult to distinguish from the males, and most observers find it nearly impossible to tell which is which (most humans appear just as sexless to the Kroot). Kalm is often taken for male (being in a leadership position), and she doesn’t bother correcting most people
· Skin is a sage green accentuated by splotches of various shades of brown
· Typically clothed in the tradition leather garb of the Kroot peoples, fearing the bulky forms of xenos armor hinders the free movement and stealth they rely upon
· Speaks in a squawky manner that may sound strange to those whom have never met a Kroot (their natural language is more a collection of clicks, whistles, and scents)
· Kalm has a unique familiarity with both primitive and technological environments due to living in the wreck of a star ship on a hostile jungle world
· Due to feasting on the various inhabitants of Burnscour for multiple generations, her people have developed several notable evolutionary advantages. The two most significant are 1) A natural resistance to poisons and acids, and a barb full of neurotoxin that can extend from the underside of the wrist, and 2) a natural pigment shifting skin condition that ripples with colors and patterns, allowing them to become nearly invisible when they wish to hide
· While her fellow Kroot have no issue with firearms, Kalm follows in the ways of the Kroot forerunners…swearing off anything but stealth and bladed weapons when she hunts. It’s not uncommon to see her leather harness sporting a deadly assortment of knives and daggers
· Kalm is very spiritual. She often performs rituals for both her peoples and those others amongst the Hammer’s crew, even if they don’t ask
· Training to become a Shaper, she has no qualms feasting upon the corpses of opponents whenever possible to test for positive genetic traits. At the behest of the captain, she does try to keep the violent act away from the eyes of those that might take offense
· She often keeps her head-quills tied together in a “ponytail” of sorts
Kalm Ophou is the latest chapter in a very long story…
Near the close of the 40th millennia, the violent warp storms across the galaxy had begun to abate. The Imperium had barely stumbled upon the technological monster that was the Tau empire, years before the Damocles Crusade would be launched. Though the Kroot had allied themselves with the Tau, many of them still sought their independence and struck out from Perch in the last remnants of their technological peak, the warspheres. In these days, the Jericho Reach was untouched by the forces of man. Bold Kroot captains struck westward across the galaxy in search of riches and unique genetic advantages. Having a constantly shifting physiology, there’s little they concern themselves with more than ensuring they never come to an evolutionary dead end. It was only a matter of time until one such vessel passed through the Well of Night to uncover the ancient warp gate. There’s no way to say for certain, but the Mechanicus believes it may have even been these xenos who unwittingly reactivated the gate around 397.M41.
Plaas Ophou was a Master Shaper and spiritual leader to the thousands of his fellow kindred aboard their warsphere. He had received a vision that foretold of both great reward and great tragedy if they passed through the gate. The elder members of the kindred voted, and it was ultimately decided that they would take the risk. In the blink of an eye, they found themselves on the other side of the galaxy. However, the angry warp storms of the Maw yet raged and would not quiet for years to come. The tragedies suffered on their journey are rarely spoken of in the oral traditions. Plaas and those others that survived arrived in the Koronus Expanse and managed to crash their dying ship into a primitive planet, later named “Burnscour” by the Imperium.
Burnscour is a death world of roaring storms, jungles, and strange beasts. It is an inhospitable place for any that stumble upon it from off-world, as the steaming rain alone eats at metal and breeds strange fungus on exposed flesh. Even the simplest plant species has a sap that is lethal or viciously toxic. With no way back to the stars and no help coming, the Kroot were forced to make a stand. Perhaps due to the foreign materials harvested across the galaxy, the warsphere managed to survive the acidic rains long enough to become covered in a “protective” layer of the local vegetation.
From the uppermost leaves of its canopy to the ground, the jungles of Burnscour are a choking mass of countless plants: trees with dark waxen leaves and trunks covered in barbs that weep thick sap the color of bile, blooms of fungus as pale as milk, thick creepers dangling from the branches of trees, delicate flowers which will open at the touch to expose waving fronds that fill the air with a heady scent that dulls the mind… Numerous beasts stalk through the nightmare jungles of Burnscour as well. Things of every size, all perfectly adapted to the hellish environment, live here in vast numbers. There are those such as the beetle-like creatures who gnaw through both flesh and bark or the six-legged stalkers the size of three grown men that move silent and invisible amongst the branches. For hundreds of years, the Kroot eked out a life here, the survivors passing from generation to generation.
Around 755.M41, the Imperium once again found its way back into the Koronus Expanse. From powerful Rogue Traders to any brave enough to press out into the unknown, they came looking for riches, ancient technologies, and wonders yet beheld. Burnscour is avoided by most sensible spacefarers due to its unforgiving environment. Only the boldest of those amongst the beast trade tend to land on the planet (though land is a relative term). Hunting parties tend to haul their catches onto hovering dropships that never touch the surface. Others come with heavy flamers and anti-plant bombs to clear landing zones, though they are reclaimed by the jungles within days.
Kalm Ophou, 5th generation descendant of the great Plaas, was a member of the scouting party that discovered one such group of beast hunters for the first time. These Kroot had never seen humans before. Their strange vulcanized rubber suits and equipment seemed incredibly strange to them, as after so many genetic mutations they had built up great resistances to the environment. The kindred’s current Shaper attempted to approach them in peace, but the hunters brutally murdered him. For years these visitations continued, the Kroot using their skills and natural traits to remain hidden from this hostile species…killing those that wandered too close to the ruins of their warsphere. Kalm, however, was fascinated with them. She observed their behavior, slowly learned their language, and stole pieces of their technology.
Unfortunately, every thousand years or so, the great warp storms near Burnscour fluctuate. Strange occurrences began happening all over the planet. At the height of the phenomena, an orbiting beast trade vessel was struck by a sword class frigate that had apparently appeared from nowhere. The crippled ship seemed to follow the exact same trajectory the Kroot’s warsphere had taken centuries earlier…and ultimately collided with the hidden structure. The explosion was unlike anything Kalm and her scouting party had ever witnessed. When the last of the fires had been extinguished by the acid rains, they returned to find the violence had just begun. The scattered survivors of both sides fought among the burnt-out corpses of the star ships for weeks.
When Lord Captain Viktor Khal came in search of news pertaining to the mysterious frigate, he and his men bore witness to the frantic fighting between the savage kroot and the human traders. Luckily for Viktor, he didn’t have to wait long to see one of these aliens up close. Kalm, now the defacto leader based on the death of the elders and her lineage, managed to single-handedly infiltrate his drop ship. Once she learned this man had no intention of harming her people, Kalm impressed the rogue trader with her demeanor and grasp of the gothic language.
The Kroot learned that they were far from the last of their kind, and that their people truly did hail from the opposite end of the galaxy. Kalm knew that nothing was left to be gained from remaining on Burnscour. She convinced the last remnants of her tribe that they should accept the strange human’s offer of transport in exchange for helping him locate this mysterious ship. That the ship had caused this latest tragedy couldn’t be a mere coincidence. Kalm felt that the fate of her people was now tied to this endeavor. After conducting a ritual for those that had perished, Kalm overloaded the damaged plasma drives deep within the ruined warsphere. What few traces that remained would be swallowed by the jungles in a matter of days.
It took several months, but eventually they did manage to track down the captain’s mystery vessel. He seemed very happy (if a bit unsettled) about the matter. Kalm was prepared to have her people transported back to the warp gate and “home”, but the night after finding the ship she received a glimpse of a vision. It was a tangled mess of images, though they clearly involved this strange human, Viktor Khal. She knew that it was the first sign of Shaper abilities emerging within her. More so, she knew that she would have to remain with this man to pass the spiritual test and fully unlock her potential. He was a bit surprised by her request to stay with the crew, but was more than pleased to have access to such a brutal fighting force.
Kalm continues to travel aboard the Hammer, acting as Viktor’s personal bodyguard and leading her fighting band of Kroot warriors on boarding actions, waiting for her vision to unfold…