“I’m not really your father.” Venn was dying, the revolt was failing, and some things had to be sorted out in the limited time he had left.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Kalika, and that was the name he had given her, was trying to staunch his wounds but the damage was too great and tonight there were no ambulances or any other way of getting to a hospital.
“I stole you from a Children’s Services office down one of the southern cities.” He grabbed her arm to keep her attention. “I needed to get out of town, they were looking for a man on his own and no-one was really watching you. You were a tiny little thing, far too still and quiet for your age, and all your gear was in a green plastic garbage bag beside you.” He sighed and Kalika redoubled her efforts at first aid, “I found out later that you had bruises up both arms, across your back and down your legs. Took you a couple of weeks before you’d talk – I had to change your name because you wouldn’t tell me what it was.”
“Dad, stop making things up. You don’t need to tell me stories to keep me happy and distracted anymore.” Kalika was crying, tears running quietly down her face. Kalika hardly ever cried, even when he’d first gotten her.
“I know, but I know what being gut shot means, and I’m dying. I have to tell you this now because there won’t be another day.” There was gunfire in the middle distance. “My will and a letter for you with all the details are with that solicitor, Conraghty. You remember him?”
“Walk away from all this. I deliberately kept you in the clear so no-one’d be looking for you. Maybe find out who you are.” He could feel himself failing.
“I know who I am, I’m your daughter.” She kissed him. “But I might go find out who I was.”