“Come on out of there, you motherless—.” Sharp Del’s voice died beneath a deeper, more malevolent rumble.
“My mother,” the hulking Brin stepped out from the shadows behind him, “was very young.”
Sharp Del whirled around with startled fury, swinging the heavy ball gun a bit further from his body than he ought to have, a matter of centimeters. The Brin snatched it in one huge, four-fingered paw and twisted it away to the snap of human fingers. Sharp Del wailed.
“My mother could not provide me with the privileges customary to a male of our line. My acceptance to the Warrior’s Third Creche honors both her sacrifice and our shared blood.”
“Just—an—expression,” Sharp Del moaned, recoiling, clutching his broken hand close to his chest. “Wasn’t even talking to—Gods!” He wailed, “—to you.”
“Ah,” Vanya glowered, jabbing the broken ball gun into Sharp Del’s chest.
“Sad for you that I heard.” His left arm swung, catching the human in the jaw. Bones snapped and gave way, teeth broke free from infection-ravaged gums, beneath the blow. Sharp Del staggered backwards and nearly righted himself, then his knees gave and he crumpled to the ground in a heap.
Vanya stood there a moment, inspecting the seized weapon. A human-scaled trigger guard rendered it unusable to him, and it’s generally poor condition made it worthless for trade. He removed the cartridge, scooped up a handful of sand, and poured it into the loading channel, then worked the action several times, until it jammed. He dropped the ruined weapon beside Sharp Del.
He turned back to the cabin and shouted. “Get out here, you motherless serpent!” He bellowed.
Half a minute later the door swung open and Qualm emerged, dragging his damaged leg. His left arm was tied close to his chest in a makeshift sling. His right hand clutched a steel fireplace poker.
“Serpent?” He asked. “Warrior’s Third Creche?”
The Brin shrugged. “You people,” he sniffed, “you eat that shit up like pudding or raspberries.”