Sarusammog tied its arms in Gordian knots, the equivalent for its species of folding them impatiently as the human fought to suppress signs of fear.
“I, I, I…” The thief stammered, beads of sweat forming on his troubled brow. “Awfully conceited to refer to yourself three times in a row, don’t you think?” Saru growled, ears folding further back. “Well, I’m waiting! Answer for yourself!” Its rear pseudo-legs were tapping the floor with annoyance.
The human finally mastered his terror, enough to speak coherently and to not soil himself. “I’ve got family I need to support. My children are sick, really sick, so I came here to get something that my clients will pay enough for me to afford a cure for them. They mentioned this collection. So I went through channels to get what I needed to come here. Please! My kids are dying! They need help!”
The Tempest suddenly teleported into the chamber on summons from Saru, initially annoyed, until Sarusammog told her what was said. Saru had done a quick brain scan of the would-be thief. Everything checked out. The human was telling the truth to all indications, a fact related to the Tempest on her arrival.
Tempest avoided eye contact as she read the human’s body language, feeling his fear almost as her own when in a bad spot. There was the time she had taken a friend, the Mirus, back in time to the end of the Permian era on Earth, to meet aliens intent on averting the extinction- level event that would come, to prevent the rise of humanity hundreds of millions of years later.
They survived, but Tempest had not foreseen the environment at the time, and was almost killed by the atmospheric chemistry and heat exhaustion until the Mirus coached her in turning on her hypershard’s life support fields. Long story short: the mass-extinction happened as it should have, while the aliens were destroyed, and the two returned to their respective times.
“Well, I have an idea. Don’t delete him . . . not just yet, you big fluffy!” She whispered something in Sarusammog’s ear, and its face lit up with an absurdly wide grin, this time genuinely amused.
“Oh, my! That’s capital . . . an absolutely capital idea! Do it, girl, and I’ll be ready to hear your story about it when you’ve returned for lunch!” Saru was beaming as the Tempest stood by the human and said, “Drop the comics. Just drop them. You won’t need them to pay for anything. Here’s what Saru and I are going to do, for you, not to you! You’ll never need to have gotten into this mess in the first place. Your children are as good as cured, better even!”
“Okay big guy, paradox us both when I loop back in time. I’ve already figured out the coordinates to the right time and location. Logged in and locked on target!”
Sarusammog touched a stud on his Paradox harness as Tempest and the human vanished from sight.
This would be an interesting tale to hear when she returned from that node of the space-time manifold. He sighed as he put back the graphic novels with meticulous care, still in their dust- jackets, and turned to leave the library, no longer angry, and proud of the ingenuity of the Children of Terra.
He had chosen a Herald in the Tempest well, and wisely!